Any thoughts that we might get a final weather window to see 2012 out in style appear to be like many soils – washing into watercourses the length and breadth of the country. As I write the rain is lashing against the window. I tipped 20mm (once more!) out of the rain gauge this morning, we have had two flood warnings and the weather forecast is pretty foul.
Acreages of winter crops are well back on average. Provided that we can get the land back into order there is likely to be a considerable area of spring crop going in. No doubt seed merchants and the maltsters will be looking to make the most of the opportunities presented to them by a potentially large area of spring barley. That being the case, if there is wheat seed still in the shed and the soil conditions improve before the spring, sowing date may not be an issue, dependent on the variety.
I had heard of some wheat still to cut last week and there are still folk struggling to lift potatoes. That apart, many growers will have called a halt for the year hoping for an improvement in 2013. Those crops that have been sown are extremely variable with some good looking crops, through to those which will probably not make it through to the spring due to slugs, lack of oxygen due to excess water or a combination of both. In general oilseed rape and winter barley crops have had a weedkiller. Getting a spray onto oilseed rape for light leaf spot or an aphicide onto barleys for barley yellow dwarf virus may prove to be a bit tricky without a low ground pressure sprayer.
Most wheats are unlikely to have had a herbicide and the best approach may be to wait until spring to see if the crop has survived and to assess the weed spectrum. Having said that, if a suitable opportunity presents itself, grass weeds are always more easily controlled when they are small. Growers should check the cut off dates of most residual/early post-emergence products.
No report this year would be complete without reference to slug control. Despite the best efforts of agronomists to work within the Metaldehyde Stewardship Guidelines, it would appear that some growers, in their attempts to halt the onslaught, have not been too precise with their slug pellet applications. The net result is that high levels of metaldehyde have been detected in some watercourses. We cannot afford to lose our concentration in this stewardship campaign or we shall lose yet another control mechanism. Sermon over!!