The summer cropping season of 20/21, while a slight improvement on the previous summer, has been another tough one. Persistent mice incursions into crops coming into head since September has resulted in extensive, ongoing baiting programs. Heatwave conditions took a toll on September planted sorghum with yields generally disappointing.
October plantings look a little better and at time of writing are colouring up. Some corn crops had Johnsons Grass Mosaic Virus ( JGMV) infections this season which is transmitted by aphids. Sorghum can also be a host. There was a reasonable amount of late planted sorghum and mung beans.
Last winter’s cereal crop has provided some excellent stubble cover, and should result into more even wetting up of fallows. Soil testing for nitrogen and nitrogen applications for winter crop have been ticking along but be mindful that field variation will be very pronounced where there has been a sequence of uneven winter and
summer crop production. Also home kept wheat and barley seed for winter planting should be germ tested and seed treated for loose smut.
Unfortunately last season some barley crops that are susceptible to mildew were neglected and took on heavy disease loads. Preventative measures are always better than trying to put out fires. Consider variety disease profiles carefully and build a fungicide program around them. We suggest in furrow fungicide treatment via water
injection or treatment on fertiliser as a very cost effective control measure.
Wheat again will be in some winter plans and be careful with paddock selection. We are a little way off a promising seed treatment fungicide being developed by Syngenta aimed at Crown Rot control, the potential number one disease threat to wheat each season. Avoid planting wheat on any winter cereal ground, but if that is the plan a Predicta B test to check crown rot and nematode levels is paramount. Even if going onto sorghum fallows it is critical to have fertility levels that only meet the demand of the crop to avoid excessive vegetative growth.
Select wheat varieties with higher tolerance to Crown Rot and plant in between the previous cereal stubble line. Soft spring conditions over ride all of these measures in reducing infection levels, but 2016 conditions do not come along often.
By Jeff Stone
Agronomist – Pursehouse Rural Pittsworth