Since last blogging in November there has been little or no change to circumstances here in the Southwest. There is still a significant acreage of winter wheat as yet un-drilled with time now beginning to run out. Let’s hope we get a dry week before the middle/end of February and a window to get some of this wheat planted.

There is currently tremendous pressure on the seed supply side of the industry with most combinable crop seed in a sell-out situation. This is making life even more tricky than it already is.

When the ground eventually dries up there is going to be a lot of catching up to do. Few crops have recieved any herbicide up to now. There are crops of wheat with volunteer beans flapping in the wind above them that in a normal season would have been taken out in November.

Grass weeds are getting quite large which is going to add to the cost and difficulty of removing them.

Many wheat and oilseed rape crops are small due to later drilling and waterlogging and are going to require nitrogen as early as is sensible in order to try to kick start the crops into growth. With forward prices for grain looking so good it is going to be important to get the best we possibly can out of the crops that have been planted.

Rape crops will recieve a phoma spray at earliest opportunity if they have not had one so far. This will be combined with a trace element cocktail to try to improve the health status of the crops and give them the best possible chance of being able to respond to the nitrogen inputs.

The same approach will be used on the backward looking crops of wheat that have struggled to produce a good root system in the wet soils

There is still a high degree of uncertainty on many farms as to what their final cropping will be for 2012/2013 and this is making it difficult to plan. By the third week of February this picture should become a lot clearer as we will know by then if the remainder of the wheat has been planted or not. Once we reach this point it will be much easier to focus on what needs to be done.

I hope by the next time I write that we are into a spell of better early spring weather and that there will have been  a lot of activity on farm in terms of spraying fertilising and planting.