With current water-logged and cold soil conditions potentially limiting nutrient availability, growers are urged to prioritise cereal crop nutrition in the spring to ensure robust yields.
Rainfall has been 97.5% higher this autumn than last year which is having an impact on autumn drilling, according to crop experts FMC Agro.
Reports show that only 30 percent of winter crops have been drilled in badly affected areas.
Chris Bond, plant health manager at FMC, admitted that crop nutrition may be the last thing on growers' minds.
“But with current soil conditions being less than ideal, nutrient availability could be impacting development and yields of autumn drilled crops and come spring, those that will be drilled into challenged soils,” he said.
“Important nutrients such as nitrogen, sulphur and magnesium, will be leaching away and phosphorus, copper and zinc, which are vital for root development and cold tolerance, will be unavailable to the plant.”
This means it is more important than ever to ensure nutrition is correct coming out of the winter and into the spring, Mr Bond explained.
“The first step is to establish what’s limiting your crops. You can either look at the losses from the soil by using soil analysis or come early spring, test the nutrient uptake of the plant through tissue testing.”
He said that if growers do anticipate a deficiency in crops, foliar applications could be the best option.
“Because of the soil conditions, any nutrients that are applied to the soil will be ineffective. Your best bet is to apply specially formulated foliar nutrients which can be effectively absorbed by the plant.
“Foliar applications of some key nutrients can be applied in cereals from the three-leaf stage, when there is a big enough target to intercept the application,” Mr Bond said.
“With such high rainfall causing waterlogged soils and with cold weather predicted this winter, nutrition will play a big part in making sure crops are as strong and healthy as they can be going into next spring.”