With harvest now over we can reflect on what has been an extremely challenging season. Yields have been better than expected in many cases and although some have not been as good as we would have liked, we have to keep reminding ourselves of how the crops looked back in February.

Early indications show that the average first wheat yield across our clients farms is around 9t/ha and second wheat yields averaged 7.60t/ha. The later drilled crops and second wheat crops suffered from poorer establishment and poor root structures, which was compounded by the 30C temperatures experienced during grain fill.

Oilseed rape yields were extremely variable, with an average of 3.34t/ha, which was better than we could have imagined back in February.

Most rape crops are now racing away, with more growth after six weeks in the ground this autumn than the plants managed to generate during six months last year. The biggest concern is the low dormancy blackgrass and the amount that has emerged within the crop. Some of the worst blackgrass fields are due to receive carbetamide plus a contact graminicide around now to try and reduce the population before it gets too large and deeply rooted.

Currently there is no sign of phoma due to the dry conditions reducing the development of the disease. If conditions become wet into October then the smaller crops should be monitored carefully, as they are more susceptible than the larger well established plants.

Wheat and barley drilling has progressed at pace and most first wheat has been drilled into very good conditions, with some plants emerging within 9-10 days. Most farms have managed to get at least one stale seed-bed prior to drilling, although many farms have made the most of the good ground conditions to push on with drilling.

Where blackgrass is a problem and we are applying combinations of flufenacet, diflufenican, prosulfocarb and pendimethalin depending on the weed spectrum. Care should be taken to check seed depth and crop emergence prior to spraying.

The misty mornings of late have been enough to keep the slugs active and generally wet processed pellets have been applied to ensure longevity if it comes a little showery. With crops emerging so quickly, once through we will be able to treat problem areas as required and avoid blanket applications as much as possible.