Agronomy Update – May 2020

In this blog, Agrochemical & Technical Director David Cairns provides a snapshot of what has gone on with the main crops he’s looking after in North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. 


Without stating the obvious, this is one of the most challenging seasons for some time. 

We all know the weather dictates agriculture, but an unprecedented – yes, you’re probably sick of hearing that word on the news – lack of moisture has really affected crops this season.  

I am aware in some local areas there has been some moisture, but the reports I’m hearing are that through April and May, some areas have barely received 10mm. 


Winter Barley 

Awn sprays have been applied to these. There is very little disease about and crops are not carrying a great amount of height.  

They have flowered and set grain so now in the filling period, with some moisture desirable to maximise grain fill. 


Winter Wheat 

Crops have generally raced through Growth Stages, going from Leaf 2 just emerging to Flag Leaf out within a week, mainly due to moisture stress but the small amounts received have greened crops up as they have been able to access vital nutrients 

The initial Yellow Rust that was hitting some of these crops, particularly in coastal areas, has disappeared, but we can’t ignore that threat and will review varietal resistance at the end of the season.  

Septoria remains very low in all crops but could still be in the latent phase and growers have generally applied a robust Flag Leaf fungicide as preventative, maybe with reduced rates.  

We have sent some samples away for full leaf analysis on curacrop to determine latent disease present in top four leaves, so it will be interesting to see the results.  

Depending on how the weather pans out will determine what happens next with ear sprays, or if they even happen at all. 


Oilseed Rape 

All talk was of a long flowering period and despite them starting slowly and unevenly, the recent winds have ensured any flowers disappeared quicklySo the crop is now podded up and we will just have to wait and see. 


Spring Barley 

The establishment of Spring Barley very much depends on cultivation, rotation and area. We have crops that are rowed up and in stem extension with good plant stand to some just poking through the ground.  

It is all about minimising stress on this crop, so they have been treated with trace elements and bio stimulants to try and pick them up.  

As weeds have flushed, these have been taken out and a small dose of fungicide applied, although disease levels are very low but again minimising stress.  



There’s no escaping the fact that rainfall is desperately needed. I sound like a longplaying record and will probably regret itas the rain will probably arrive at the most inopportune time, but agriculture is very resilient and growers are enthusiastically planning ahead with early seed being ordered for next season. 


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