The rain we’ve had over the past month may not have been ideal for harvesting but it has meant we’re starting the new cropping season with some of the most promising seedbed conditions I’ve had across my patch in recent years.
Grass weeds and volunteers have all grown away well following harvest and we’re looking to fit in two rounds of stale seedbeds ahead of wheat drilling wherever weed problems have become particularly pressing. And where we can’t we’ll include a compatible glyphosate with some of the pre-emergence sprays to give them a helping hand.
A decent amount of soil moisture will really help us make the most of the pre-emergence products we’re increasingly relying on for our weed control these days. Wherever we can afford it we’ll be stacking them – using combinations of flufenacet, prosulfocarb, pendimathalin, chlorotoluron and diflufenican – for maximum effect.
We’ll also be making the most of the varieties our SMART Farming trials have shown to compete most aggressively with grass weeds, keeping seed rates up and delaying drilling where possible to give time for extra pre-planting control.
The first of our wheats – Claire, Solstice and Scout – are just starting to go in and should take off well, so we’ll need to be on the ball with our early management.
After the devastating effect the past season had on many of our second wheat yields, we shall be doing everything possible to get them off to the best possible start. Take-all seed dressings will be an essential all-round.
Slug patrols will be a key priority too over the next few weeks in our wheats as well as oilseed rapes. The little blighters haven’t been that evident yet, thankfully. But we’re keeping our eyes firmly peeled and the pellets to hand.
I favour lower dose, hybrid metaldehyde pellets where conditions aren’t too wet and top quality wet pasta-based ones where greater weather resistance is important. Both these formulations should really help to minimise leaching risk.
A lot of our oilseed rape was drilled in mid-August and it’s now powering its way very evenly to three and four leaves plus. And the crops that didn’t go in until the second week of September are coming through strongly too. We’ve taken a lot of care to match variety development speed to drilling time. Even so we’ll have to be spot on with our autumn fungicide/plant growth regulator sprays if we’re to get make sure they go into the winter just right.