After a desperately slow start, oilseed rape has finally decided to grow to a point where we can decide whether it’s worth keeping or not. Fortunately, most that I’m involved with has enough of a plant to make a crop, provided we keep what we’ve got. For the third year in a row (so even before the neonic restrictions) I am convinced that there is something else having a go at the rape that isn’t flea beetle, slugs or turnip sawfly. Any suggestions will be gratefully considered! What I do know about oilseed rape is that it has the most amazing ability to compensate, so I’m reluctant to go rushing in and ripping it out. Phoma watch is in full swing now, but as yet we’ve seen very little.

A decent spell of weather (and some pretty heroic efforts by tractor drivers) has enabled a huge area of cereals to be drilled over the last two weeks. It’s worth considering that some of this ground has had a third of its annual rainfall since the second week of August so that makes for an even greater achievement. Crops have generally gone in to good seed-beds and unlike the OSR, the cereals have come through the ground very quickly.

A frequent telephone conversation this time of year is: “The crop’s coming through, is the pre-em still safe?” Usually the answer is yes, but dependant on the products used and other aspects such as depth of drilling, a phone call to your advisor is a worthwhile conversation. The one thing that does have to be remembered is that the efficacy of these products post weed emergence is severely compromised.

My feeling is that soil temperatures will be lower earlier this year than in previous autumns, which will give us an opportunity to make good use of our propyzamide/carbetamide applications. Wouldn’t it be funny if we didn’t get any more rain now until March? Makes a mockery of all the clopyralid et al timing restrictions.