Whole-crop needs careful management

WHOLE CROP RI Farm
GROWTH: The stages of growth in order to map whole-crop successfully.

IN recent weeks the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) has received a number of queries from dairy farmers who have taken the decision to sow whole-crop for silage.

However CAFRE Dairy Development Adviser Michael Garvey, who has been dealing with the enquiries, says that the whole-crop needs to be managed carefully in order to be a success.

ADVICE: CAFRE Crop Development Adviser Iain Johnston, who is based in Co Armagh.

Michael said: “Iain Johnston, our CAFRE Crop Development Adviser based in Armagh, recommends that winter wheat for whole-crop silage can receive up to 220kg of nitrogen (N) per hectare if it is following a cereal crop or 160kg/ha of N if coming after a high nitrogen grass ley.

“The final split should be applied as the whole-crop reaches Growth Stage 32, towards the end of April/early May. Remember to take into account any organic manures applied.

“Iain also says that the whole-crop should be checked for weeds, particularly if no autumn herbicide was applied and treated accordingly. Using an October sown winter wheat crop to demonstrate the current growth stage, he outlines the various growth stages at which the spray programme is implemented.”

How to perform each step of the process is explained fully in a CAFRE video that can be viewed at youtu.be/uT7xAsKrFsg

The steps recommended by the CAFRE advisers in order to make the sowing of whole-crop a success are summarised by Iain, who added: “At growth stage 32/33 – start of stem extension/leaf 3 emerged – the crop is ready for its first fungicide spray. Then at growth stage 39, when the flag leaf is out, the crop is ready for its second fungicide spray. And finally, once the head is out and beginning to flower the crop is ready for its third fungicide spray.”

In all cases advice should be sought from a BASIS Qualified Agronomist.

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