Well, that’s another season more or less by and we are already pushing on to get into the next one. Planning for this year is proving more complicated than usual due to the lack of information forthcoming regarding “Greening”, in particular Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). Hopefully, now that the referendum is over, the “Powers That Be” will concentrate on giving growers the answers that they require in order to make sensible cropping decisions, without running the risk of incurring penalties on their Single Farm Payment.
For most of us north of the border harvest was relatively trouble free, with the exception of the north and north east of the country where heavy bursts of rain conspired to spoil the party! Yields, in general, have been better than average and drying charges should have been lower than usual. However, prices of all commodities are far from satisfactory. Those growers who were able to lock into prices in advance will have scored this year.
On the whole oilseed rape crops performed well, especially where plant density was not too thick, allowing light to penetrate and maintain photosynthesis rather than being reflected off a mass of petals.
Next year’s crops have been established in good conditions and are growing away well. Weed control. if not a metazachlor + clomazome pre-emergence hit or an early post-emergence shot of metazachlor + quinmerac, will have to fall back on a dose of propyzamide once soil temperatures have dropped. Volunteer cereals have also appreciated the ideal seed-beds and will need to be stopped before becoming too competitive.
So far, the feared attack of flea beetle post the neonicotinoid ban has not materialised. Pest numbers have been low and crops have grown away from the threat. Base any spraying decisions on pest numbers and industry alerts and information.
High disease pressure in cereals this season will have affected the out-turn in a number of crops. Early-sown wheats were particularly disappointing. Septoria in wheat, and mildew or rhynchosporium in barley proved to be problematical from time to time. Sensible active ingredient mixes, tight spray timings and robust rates were the best response. Shortages of some active ingredients will not have helped growers to keep on top of any rampant disease. Varietal resistance is going to become ever more important in the quest for improved yields.
Barleys are being sown into good seed-beds and should come out of the blocks fairly quickly. Despite the aforementioned disappointment with early-sown winter wheats, there do appear to be a number of drills working in pea and rape stubbles. Memories seem to be gey short!
Seed potatoes, salads and early ware crops are all being lifted in excellent soil conditions – enough moisture to cushion the tubers, but dry enough for the soil to fall off. However, in some instances skin set has been a bit slow, leading to a bit of stop-go start to harvest. Harvester operators will have to be aware that, due to some soils retaining much of their summer temperature, they will have to lift the crop gently or bruising may well be an issue. In many instances it will pay to switch on the cold store units from day one.