Yields from this harvest have been the most variable for a long time across all crops. The moisture retentive soils have produced some sensational yields whilst those on thin or light land have been understandably down on output, although perhaps not as low as anticipated.
Oilseed rape drilling is well underway and seedbeds so far have been very good. A much higher proportion of land is being established by a subsoiler seeder unit with confidence growing year on year with this technique. Pre-emergence herbicides have been applied to moist surfaces and with good seed-beds they should work well.
Be on the lookout for slug damage as crops emerge and treat with slug pellets where required. It is worth remembering the Metaldehyde Stewardship guidelines, which limit individual doses to 210g/ha of active ingredient, but preferably less than 160g/ha. Also, do not spread metaldehyde slug pellets within six metres of a watercourse.
Flea beetle on oilseed rape could soon be a problem where no insecticide dressing was applied to the seed. Treat with a pyrethroid insecticide if the shot-hole damage begins to threaten plant survival.
Good flushes of grass weeds, such as blackgrass and ryegrass, are appearing where land has been cultivated prior to drilling cereals. Achieving these stale seed-beds should allow a promising start to the battle against difficult grass weeds. The next target will be to have good seed-beds and moisture to get the best out of the pre-emergence herbicides.
Cereal seed rates are often difficult to get right, but beware to increase seed rates too much on the back of last year where crops failed to tiller due to the dry spring. Also, the thousand grain weights of some seed stocks are high this year so drilling by seeds per metre squared rather than by weight will be crucial.
Oakley is still featuring prominently in cropping plans again as it has performed well. With Oakley being so susceptible to yellow rust it is important to sow an area that can easily be covered by the sprayer to apply fungicides.