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Top ten reasons to grow spring cereals and arable forage.

Spring Cereals and Arable Forage Mixes

Growing a spring sown arable crop to produce valuable home grown starch and energy source for feeding on farm has a number of signifi cant advantages. It is a reliable way of reducing purchased feed costs and provides straw for bedding or feeding on farm. Alternatively it can be grown as a cash crop for grain and straw or it can be undersown with grass/clover leys, to provide a valuable cover crop while the new ley establishes.

Spring cereals are often used as part of a planned crop rotation on the farm and will aid the establishment and productivity of new grass leys. They are approximately £100/acre less to grow than winter cereals, with a lower fertiliser and fungicide requirement. Utilising cereal crops at harvest can vary depending on the specifi c need. Grain can be used for, dry grain, crimped, fermented wholecrop or Maxammon or soda treated grain.


Top ten tips to grow spring cereals


1 Order seed as early as possible. If conditions allow, drilling early in mid- February will normally yield higher than early April drilled crops. 6 Balancing soil status with the correct amount of phosphate and potash is important to maximise the crop, taking into account the value of slurry or farm yard manure put on to the land. Nitrogen dressings can be applied to the seedbed or split into two applications. The amount of nitrogen applied will depend on many factors,
including the intended use of the crop, the targeted yield, the risk of lodging, and so on.
2 Select a free draining fi eld with good soil structure to help create a timely firm, fine seedbed and maximise soil to seed contact which improves establishment. 7 Seed rate, typically 75kg/acre, but could be less in the most favourable sites, or as low as 50kg/acre where the crop is undersown with grass/clover. Seed should be drilled or
broadcast to a depth of 2–2½ cms. Rolling afterwards can be beneficial to retain moisture and help improve germination.
3 Select the correct variety for your needs - high grain yield or straw length. 8 Pest control. Birds, slugs and rabbits all pose a potential problem so keep an eye out for attack and use appropriate control methods.
4 Seed dressing. Austral Plus is available for after long term grass, to protect the seed
from wireworm.
9  Weed control. Provided grass weeds have been controlled pre-cultivations by Glyphosate (Clinic Ace), broad-leaf weeds and possibly wild oats will present the biggest challenge to the crop. Broadleaf weed killers need to be applied by the end of tillering stage to prevent yield loss and harvesting difficulties.
5 Soil test the fi elds. For wheat, oats, triticale 6.0 to 6.5 pH is sufficient, but barley a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 is vital. 10  Disease control will depend on the species of cereals grown, season and yield targets. Triticale is the most disease resistant, being a cross of wheat and rye and is suitable for organic farmers or those wishing only to apply one fungicide. But for wheat, barley and oats, two to three fungicides is now the norm to prevent severe yield and quality loss through disease.

Growing a spring sown arable crop to produce valuable home grown starch and energy source for feeding on farm has a number of significant advantages

Call our Seedline for advice 0n 01769 576232.

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Mole Valley Farmers

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