Optimum conditions for winter planting after break in weather
PLANTING of winter cereals got into full swing over the last week or 10 days.
Weather and soil conditions were extremely good, with soil temperatures slightly higher than normal. It could be expected that establishment rates for all cereals drilled so far will also be higher than normal.
With seed sizes slightly smaller than normal, this should have allowed for lower seed rates. Obviously this can be a significant saving as with the higher harvest prices it is reasonable to expect that seed prices will also be higher, particularly as some varieties of barley and oats have run out and seed must be imported.
Barley, wheat and oats can now be sown. However, Redigo Deter should still be included, particularly on barley and wheat. This will give six to eight weeks’ control of aphids, which will help to reduce the risk of BYDV and, depending on future weather, may eliminate the need for an aphicide in November.
Remember that seed should not be held over as any seed dressed with Redigo Deter this autumn cannot be used in 2019.
As a result of the harvest yields it is likely that there will be a significant increase in winter cereal acres planted and, as previously advised, it may be worth considering the forward selling of some of these crops.
Prices continue to fluctuate, but they remain higher than the average of the last 10 years and, if watched carefully over the next few months, opportunities may arise to forward-sell a portion of the potential harvest grain. This will help to minimise price risks.
Regardless of sowing dates, aim to establish 250 to 300 plants per square metre of barley, which should produce 1,000 to 1,200 heads next harvest. Aim to establish 200 to 250 plants of wheat, while the target for oats should be 350 to 400 plants.
To achieve these establishment numbers, seed bed conditions, TGW of seed, variety and sowing dates will determine the seed rates to be used.
The application of preemerge herbicides or very early post-emerge herbicides to control weeds — particularly Annual Meadow Grass in winter
Growers have used the fodder incentive scheme to plant catch crops outside of their GLAS requirements, with the result that there is a significant amount of catch crops planted.
The very early-sown crops look extremely promising and are well advanced.
Grazing of crops not in GLAS is allowable after eight weeks from the planting date. It is unclear from the Minister’s press release if this could also apply to crops planted for GLAS.
Crops should be allowed to establish well, and grazing can commence as soon as required after the eight weeks. Strip grazing is the preferred method. Care should be practised in relation to the numbers of animals grazing, especially if the feed face is narrow, to avoid poaching and damage to soil.
Again ensure that you have an agreement with your tenant livestock farmer that animals will be taken off the catch crop land early next spring, or earlier if there is evidence of soil damage starting.
While it appears that €50 to €70 per acre over and above seed and establishment costs was the price generally agreed for this crop, this small additional income can quickly turn out to be a significant cost if the crop and land is not managed properly.
SOIL STRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT
THIS has been a good year for natural subsoiling due to the drought conditions.
There was evidence of deep cracking in many heavy soils, which has been good for alleviating compaction.
The addition of organic manures and catch crop planting also improves soil structure. The longer these catch crops are left in the ground, the greater the improvement in soil structure.
Now is the time to check soil fertility levels in fields going to be used for winter cereals.
The most recent Nitrates Regulations (SI 605 of 2017) now allows late application, up to October 31, of up to 20kg P for winter cereals where soils of P index 1 and 2 exist.
This must be incorporated prior to or during sowing so should be either used in a combine drill or broadcast before sowing.
At this stage, growers should be well aware of the benefits of phosphate and the requirement for reasonable phosphate levels to aid root development for emerging plants, hence the reason for this allowance.
Other than this the use of chemical fertiliser is no longer allowed this autumn.
ROTATION AND THREE-CROP RULE
Before all planting of winter cereals is complete, make sure to check your overall planting percentages of crops.
The three-crop rule will operate again this year, but more importantly good rotation to achieve higher yields is essential.
If you can ensure that at least 25 per cent of your area is sown to a break crop such as beans, oil seed rape, beet or oats, the chances of higher returns going forward improve dramatically.
Margins will again be under pressure in 2019 as no doubt there will be a significant downward pressure on prices, coupled with increased fertiliser and seed costs.
Straw will again play a major role in securing good margins for 2019, so consideration should be given to arrangements with livestock farmers for next autumn.
Now is the time to come to an arrangement: straw for slurry deal with your livestock neighbour.
Considering the likelihood of high straw costs next harvest and high fertiliser costs next spring, this is a win-win for both parties.
barley — is essential as there is no suitable chemical to control this weed post-emergence.There is a range of suitable products available, costing in the region of €8-12 per acre.