The dry sunny October that we were all hopeful of did not materialise, we have pretty much had an inch of rainfall per week since the dreaded four inches in three days back at the end of September, with a generally good drying week last week.
Drilling has been sporadic with most having now run out of lighter land to plough and drill. The spud guys are having a horrible time and I guess there will be spud land that will not see a crop on it until the spring – some are saying that it may be autumn 2013 before some is fit to take a wheat crop!
Many drilled fields will potentially not get sprayed until either hard frosts OR the spring due to very wet areas going back to the heavy rain in September. Other issues to contend with are the many acres where straw is still in the swath and needs chopping and spreading before we can plough. A Kidd double chop would be very handy, but there are none kicking around in the hedges!
Another problem to contend with is the lousy forecasting. When dry weather is forecast ploughs come out to try to allow the furrows to dry, only to find that the forecast as ever is wrong and instead of the dry sunny forecast it turns into dank wet stuff again!
All is not total doom and gloom and I suspect we are not as badly hit as other areas of the UK. Since my last report there has been quite a lot more crops drilled, but nowhere near what we were expecting to drill. Only about half the winter oat acreage has been drilled and the remainder is now destined for spring oats.
For winter barley we now have somewhere in the region 70% of our planned acreage in, with only about 10% sprayed. Most forward crops are at the three leaf stage, with a handful of crops not yet emerged. I am hopeful that we will get all the barley sprayed given half a chance. Slugs as yet have not been a major issue bar the heaviest land, where some has needed an application of slug pellets.
Some winter oilseed rape crops failed due to the heavy rain drowning what were already wet fields and the crop had not chitted before the wet. Some crops are struggling to get away from metazachlor damage due to the very heavy rain at the end of September, but of the 90% planned acreage that is in, I think only 10% of this is unlikely to make a crop. Forward crops are now just about covering the ground and many crops have grown well over the last 10-14 days due to the warm weather – smallest crops are now at 2-4 true leaves.
Phoma as yet is not at the threshold, but most crops have low infections so getting crops sprayed as soon as we can where we can travel, there will be crops that need at least two weeks of dry weather before we can even get on the field! Due to the poor travelling conditions and not wishing to go through crops too often, we are looking to combine Kerb (propyzamide)/Crawler (carbetamide) in with a fungicide and graminicide where needed and the crops are big enough to cope with the tank mix. Make sure compatibilities are checked before going down this route.
Winter wheat, at a rough guess, I reckon about 50-60% is in. The area is made up of first wheat after OSR and the remainder second wheats. Maize harvesting has started and wheat is being drilled after this with a plough/power harrow combination (light land only so far). I will hope that ground conditions after the maize are not to dire and that a fair amount of wheat can go in after this crop.
The majority of the wheat after rape went in before the heavy rain and most has come through well with not too many disasters with slugs, although the majority has had to be treated once with patching up taking place after this. Most forward crops are at the two tiller stage with second wheat drilling having only got going over the last fortnight. Most of this is only just emerging, but as yet have not had to treat any second wheat land for slugs. About 15-20% of the drilled area has been sprayed, but hopeful that we will get more done as land did dry up well last week.
I am still hopeful that if the weather allows us, a dry November will see a lot more wheat going in, there will be land that will most definitely not go in due to the nature of the ground. I think that we all want 2012 to end and all hoping for a much better 2013!