As this difficult and challenging season draws to a close perhaps the most difficult decision of the season remains, when do we desiccate some of these oilseed rape crops?

If you are one of the lucky ones with even crops and no secondary flowering then the decision will be no harder than normal. Unfortunately, this only applies to about half my crops, the remainder vary from having some secondary flowering, to still flowering, to plants with nearly mature seed on the main raceme.

In some cases I wonder how we can possibly time the desiccant correctly. If we go, timed with the maturity of the main raceme, as normal, then significant red seed will be in the sample. If on the other hand we try and wait till more of the late flowering side branches are mature then we will risk seed shedding from the, by then, brittle pods at the top of the plant.

In some crops I am convinced that the only way forward is to apply Pod-Stik to the crop as it approaches the normal dessication timing, to protect the mature pods from shattering. We can then return with the desiccant later on without hopefully loosing too much seed from the top pods.

This approach will hopefully minimise levels of red seed in the sample without compromising yield significantly. Each crop will be different and I think whatever the approach some red seed is an inevitability this year.

Aphids are easy to find in wheat crops at the moment but don’t seem to be getting on the ear yet. Vigilance will be required for a couple more weeks until the risk is over.

Spring beans look very well and seem to have escaped the worst of the drought. They are receiving a second fungicide at the moment. In some cases I am tank mixing this with Hallmark Zeon (lambda-cyhalothrin + 1,2-benzisothiazolin) to control bruchid beetle, providing the timing is correct.