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Rural Diary
1 December 2017 Gary Bosley

Getting the best from your fodder beet crops

Getting good yield from your beet crop takes some good decisions, timing and the weather playing ball.

Most of the work with beet is right at the start, but remember to focus on four key things once the crop is established to maximise yields.

  1. Canopy development

    Beet crop yields are mostly grown over the summer months. The crop does this by converting sunlight, water and nutrients into yield. The amount of light absorbed by the leaves of  the crop is directly proportional to the final yield. If you can see areas of bare ground in your crop, the sunshine hitting that ground is wasted and not converted into yield. A good established population and driving growth with fertiliser is key to obtaining a full canopy.

  2. Weed control
    Fodder beet is a weak competitor which means if another plant is too close to it the size of the beet reduces. Precision sowing allows spacing of plants so they don’t compete directly with other beet plants, but weed control is critical for maximum yields. Weed control in beet is more difficult than other crops due to the type and limited number of herbicides available to use over the crop. However, with careful rate selection and timing, it is possible. Make sure you don’t give up too early and keep an eye out for late strikes and the usual suspects, Californian thistle and couch, which arrive later than other weeds.

  3. Canopy maintenance
    After fighting hard to develop a full canopy through spring, there can be factors which prevent the crop holding it over summer. Some can’t be prevented, such as extreme hot weather. Others are difficult to stop, such as wild animals coming out of the bush for a snack. We can, however, do something about other factors, such as fertility and disease. Make sure you have done a soil test and apply the required amount of fertiliser to target the yield you are after. When disease pressure increases in mid-summer, monitor and consider using a fungicide at the first signs to keep the canopy clean. Some of the common diseases seen are powdery mildew (Ersiphe betae) and rust (Uromyces betae). The canopy drives total yield so any loss can cause the plant to use resources to generate new leaves. If the canopy reduces and bare ground is visible, then you are missing your maximum potential yield in your crop.

  4. Bolter removal
    Bolters are part of growing beet but it should only be at a low level in your crop. Make sure you take the time to remove these before any seeds set so you can avoid contaminating your paddocks with weed beet. Weed beet prevents future crops of beet being grown as found in the United Kingdom, and this is already starting to occur in New Zealand.

Higher winter feed crop yields lower your cost of feed which helps keep your operation profitable. If you would like more information or advice in the field about your fodder beet crop, contact your local PGG Wrightson representative who is up to date with all the latest technology and tools to maximise the yield of your winter crops.

Gary Bosley

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Have you considered forage rape?

01 November 2017

With summer around the corner, now is a good time to start considering feed supplies going forward, especially over the drier summer months.

If you have suffered from the excessively wet winter and have damaged pastures, rather than re-sowing pasture, an alternative option is to use a forage brassica such as rape as a break-crop within a renewal programme.

Forage rape can be spring or late summer sown. It builds a bulk amount of quality feed for a fattening option or in dairy situations as an alternative to areas where summer turnips don’t do well due to drier conditions. The development of inter-species hybrids Goliath® and Titan™ forage rapes, have challenged our thinking as to how we can use them in the
farm system. Now we can carry them over an entire 12 month period from a spring sowing or late summer sowing to produce a bulk feed over winter. To capture the true benefit of Goliath and Titan, feed allocation is critical. This is best achieved by a block rotational grazing system for lambs or daily break shifts for cattle. It is important that the grazing system allows animals to have a fibre supplement intake with sufficient residual left behind to allow the plant to regrow for possible second, third and fourth grazing’s. Like all high value forage crops, transitioning between feeds is important to reduce animal health issues and allow animals to achieve performance earlier.

The scope to how we use forage rape has also increased with Goliath® and Titan™, which can now also be used in combination with other forages such as Italian ryegrass
or undersown with clover/herb mixes. The reasoning is to increase the flexibility in how the crop can be used and to capture opportunities during the season such as changing store stock prices. For example, a number of PGG Wrightson hill country customers use a combination of Titan™ or Goliath™ forage rape with Feast II® Italian ryegrass. On hill country, highly controlled feed allocation can be difficult so the mixture with grass means more flexibility; lambs can be finished over summer using a three to four block rotational grazing system, then shut up for feeding to lambs/hoggets and/or cattle over winter. If care is taken with grazing management the grass is allowed to regrow to support lambing ewes in spring. More recently dairy farmers have been using Goliath as a substitute to summer turnips as it can tolerate drier and lower fertility conditions better. Fed in a similar manner to turnips, milking cows are offered 4-5 kg DM per day, as a complement to other components of the diet such as pasture and maize silage.

As a sole stand of forage rape or in combination with mixtures it is the flexibility that forage rape has that makes it worthy of further consideration in a grazing system. However it is important to understand that selection of forage rape species is based on days to maturity, Goliath is later at 90 or more days compared to Titan at 70 or more days. One of the most undervalued options available is Cleancrop™ forage rape. Cleancrop is a system that allows a broad spectrum herbicide, Telar® to be applied at sowing and the brassicas are tolerant
to the application. The advantage of using Telar is that it can be applied in different sowing styles, including oversowing and direct drilling. It also works even in dry conditions and can be applied at relatively low water rates. What has been demonstrated with Cleancrop rape is that the cultivar itself is one of the best, a high yield potential with a high leaf to stem ratio which is important for animal performance.

To fully understand how the forage rapes can be integrated into your farm system and the appropriate option is selected, talk to your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Article supplied by PGG Wrightson Seeds

Super spreader delivers for forage brassica applications

01 February 2018

The benefits Du-Wett® consistently deliver to horticultural spray applications are now being realised by farmers and spraying contractors responsible for insect pest management in forage brassicas and other agricultural crops.

Gilchrist Brothers Ltd is an agricultural contracting business specialising in broad acre cultivation, precision planting, agronomy services and chemical application. Located in the Waimakariri district, the contractor has seen the benefits of using Du-Wett in its spraying services. Peter Gilchrist comments: “As an agricultural spraying contractor there is high pressure to service a lot of clients in a very small window. Being completely ruled by the weather, you are always looking for opportunities to become more efficient and provide the best service possible. Du-Wett allows us to do this by giving better results with superior retention of spray droplets on the target crop. Forage kale is a great example, a large leafy crop. Du-Wett’s super spreading ability for insecticides is excellent for systemic products. A win for us and a win for the client”.

Developed by Etec, Du-Wett super spreader has been a key surfactant used with crop protection products across New Zealand horticulture for many years. “Du-Wett super spreader surfactant plays an important part in maximising the efficiency of insecticides applied to brassica crops” says Etec Crop Solutions Business Development Manager, Darren Faire.

Compared to conventional non-ionic surfactants Du-Wett offers a superior level of spray deposition. The formulation allows more spray droplets to stay on the crop where you want them, rather than shatter and bounce off. Once on the brassica, Du-Wett reduces the surface tension of the spray droplet to provide unsurpassed coverage over the plant.

Etec trials have shown this enhanced spray coverage can be anywhere from 5 to 10 times greater than other surfactants. The nature of forage brassicas lends itself to the use of Du-Wett with insecticide applications as forage brassicas are notoriously difficult to get spray droplets to adhere to and get coverage over.

Lower water volumes are often able to be used to spray a crop. The savings in spray tank fills makes this is an economically invaluable benefit of Du-Wett, particularly for spraying contractors and large-scale brassica farmers.

Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative to discuss options for effective control of insect pests.

Article supplied by Etec

Aphid control in forage brassicas

01 February 2018

Aphids can cause significant damage to your forage brassicas.

Populations of both the cabbage grey aphid and green peach aphid damage your crop by sucking plant sap. The resulting yellowing and wilting reduces growth rates. Aphids also transmit plant viruses in brassicas and their feeding points provide entry wounds for diseases which can severely damage plants or even kill large areas of the crop.

Ideally your first line of defense at this time of the season is a population of beneficial insects, providing natural protection against aphids, white butterfly and diamondback moth caterpillars. Species such as brown lacewing, ladybird beetles, hoverfly, parasitic wasps and predatory mites collectively play an important role in protecting your brassica crop from aphid flare ups and damage through until grazing. Monitor your crop closely for both pests and beneficial insects and if aphid populations do flare up and require treatment, use an aphicide with minimal impact on beneficial insects such as Transform™ from Dow AgroSciences.

Transform is a systemic insecticide that moves upwards and outwards via the xylem to protect new untreated growth, an important benefit during the main growth season. Transform also has translaminar activity forming a reservoir inside the leaf that resists wash-off and provides extended aphid control for up to 21 days. After application, aphids show symptoms from Transform and feeding ceases within minutes. Affected aphids fall off treated plants over the following day or so.

Transform has a strong environmental and toxicology profile, providing a high level of safety for both ground and aerial based applicators. Only minimal protective equipment is required, specifically overalls, water-resistant work boots, gloves and a washable hat. Use of a face shield or goggles is recommended when measuring and mixing. The use of a respirator is not a requirement.

Transform is compatible with most commonly used crop protection products used in forage brassicas and can be applied as a tank mix with Sparta™ insecticide for “best in class” control of diamondback moth, white butterfly, looper caterpillars and leafminer. Always read the updated version of the Transform product label for further guidelines on timing and use.

Consult your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative if summer pests are causing concerns in your forage brassicas.

Article supplied by DowDupont Agriculture Division

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