Since mid-December the rain in the southwest has been unprecedented and incessant. Many fields have been un-travelable for weeks, meaning that there has been little or no field work done in weeks. The worst of this is that it has been exceptionally mild as well meaning that any untreated weeds have kept on growing.
Grassweeds are now getting very large and will prove difficult to control when the weather finally does come right to allow some spraying to take place. Any winter barley crops that missed their pre-emergence herbicide and have not been sprayed early post-emergence are now pretty much condemned to having a grassweed problem for the season. If conditions are right in the spring we may get passable control of meadow grasses with a robust dose of some broadleaved sulfonylurea herbicides.
With only two or three slightly frosty nights this winter and virtually every day being a Septoria rain splash event it comes as no surprise that their are already some quite heavy infestations in many wheat crops. The last time we had a winter like this Alchemy was still a popular variety and we went on to experience a very severe brown rust summer. We will either have to hope for some hard frosts through the rest of February and early March to bring the disease in check or ensure that both T0 and T1 fungicide applications are going to be efficacious at controlling brown rust as well as Septoria.
The winter oilseed rape crop is looking very much better than it did twelve months ago. Canopy size is quite variable depending on variety, drilling date and establishment method, but some of the smaller crops will soon require some nitrogen, though it will need to dry up quite a bit before this can happen.
Establishment method has made a big difference this year to how quickly the fields will be travelable again. Any crop established using non-inversion tillage is generally a lot drier than where the plough has been used and these will be the first fields to which we will gain access.
With many farms having fallen behind with spray applications due to the weather, some thought will now have to be given to prioritise jobs when the conditions come right, or even reconsider whether some jobs are still worth doing.
I hope that by the time I next contribute conditions will have improved and that we will be well into the spring workload.