Some winter barley crops are at a high risk of lodging, if the weather turns wet between now and harvest.

This is the view of agronomist, Richard Owens, who manages a selection of cereal and potato crops in counties Antrim and Down.

“I walked a number of winter barley crops last week. They were exceptionally tall and not as thick as I would have expected for this time of the year,” Owens told Agriland.

“I sense that the plant growth promoters applied earlier in the season have not worked. This may be a consequence of the wet and cold conditions at time of application.

“We are six weeks off the first barley crops of the year being harvested.

“Ear fill is now well underway. I would be concerned that as the ears get heavier, those crops that are quite tall will be very disposed to lodging, should the weather turn wet and blustery prior to combining,” Owens added.

Winter barley crops

Richard Owens has also noticed some ramularia in winter barley crops that he has inspected over recent days.

“This is a disease that can take hold in very hot, sunny conditions. But there is nothing that growers can do about it. All winter barley crops will have received their final fungicide spray by this stage,” he said.

“We will just have to wait and see what the harvest brings.”

Turning to winter wheat, the agronomist confirmed that most crops are looking well.

“Most of the wheats that I have looked at over the past few days are now responding well to fertiliser that was applied last month. Ears are now starting to emerge,” he continued.

“In terms of spraying programmes, I would strongly advise the application of T2 ear wash.”

Spring barley

But it’s not such a rosy picture, where spring barley is concerned. Some crops in Northern Ireland were only sown out in the middle of May.

“Later sown crops are finding life difficult, given the continuing hot, dry weather,” Owens added.

“In these instances, I would recommend a foliar feed containing a range of amino acids and sugars.

“These will act to keep crops vibrant. There is a range of seaweed-based products on the market at the present time, which can meet this need.”

He explained that barley crops are also very prone to manganese deficiency, the threat of which increases during periods of stress.

“There is no rain of note forecast for the rest of this week and, possibly, beyond,” he said.

“On that basis, I would advise that all spray treatments applied to spring barley over the coming days should include a source of foliar manganese.”

Where main crop potatoes are concerned, Richard confirmed that some fields in Northern Ireland were only planted out at the end of May.

“It has turned out to be one of the latest seasons on record for growers,” he commented.

“Later planted crops will reach maturity. But yields will be down on what would normally be expected.

“Growers should also plan for these later sown crops to be more predisposed to blight attack.

“This is because their foliage is softer and less disease resilient than those planted earlier in the spring,” he said.