Another month passes with little crop growth, although it appears that spring has finally sprung, with some blue sky and sunshine at long last. We now have a lot of catching up to do and as I keep getting reminded, oilseed rape was nearly on flower this time last year!
The high winds have left their scar on any rape that has some leaf left on it and prevented too much spraying and fertiliser spreading. However, most crops have received another dose of fertiliser, with phosphate and potassium applied where required.
The wind has allowed the land to dry out and drilling has progressed at pace into some good seed-beds, although the wet ground below has caused some problems. The remaining areas of peas and sugar beet are currently being drilled into good seed-beds with spring OSR and spring linseed to follow in due course now conditions are warming.
There is plenty of spraying to catch up with and compromises will undoubtedly have to be made in order to get crops sprayed before growth stage cut-offs are reached. Care must also be taken with large tank mixes applied to stressed crops and those that put on rapid new growth, as we cannot afford to check the crop at all.
Most OSR has received its Galera (clopyralid + picloram) or Shield (clopyralid). However, any still to do will be prioritised so it is applied before stem extension and green buds are visible. In wheat and barley, grassweed control is also now commencing. Some blackgrass is quite large and therefore the application of the herbicide is going to be crucial to get good results.
Disease levels are generally low, with low levels of septoria in the base of wheat crops and no rust as yet. With conditions warming and light rain forecast, rust susceptible varieties will be closely monitored and a fungicide will be included with any grassweed herbicides if required to bridge the gap to T1.
On more ‘normal’ crops then PGR’s will be included with grassweed herbicides, but the number of tank mixes will be limited as much as possible to ensure good grassweed control. Where crops have been rolled, we should ensure there is sufficient gap to allow the crop to recover before applying the herbicide.
By the time we get these jobs done we will be approaching the T1 timing and based on what we learnt last year we will be fairly robust to ensure we eradicate any disease in the crop and provide good protection. Careful consideration will also be paid to the emerging leaves to ensure we target final leaf 3 with the T1 fungicide. Hopefully from now on we can start to make some progress after several false starts.