10 May 1996

Dry April hits winter-sown types

SOME winter-sown crops are suffering from water shortage in the extreme east of the country.

Unlike most other areas, the region east of Cambridge from the Wash to the Thames received little or no rain during April, says Morley Research Centres Doug Stevens.

"We had just 5.4mm here. But it only came in 0.4mm amounts, so did no good at all." Average rainfall for the month is 40mm, he adds.

Some medium to late-sown winter wheats are now causing concern. "Fields are becoming very patchy, with alternating areas of vigorous growth and stary pale growth." Heavier soils appear worst affected. "It seems to be dependent on seed-bed condition. On rougher areas the secondary root system seems to be having a job to establish."

Spring crops are generally satisfactory. Sugar beet drilled into moisture is now showing well, and the feared flea beetle attack on linseed does not seem to have materialised, probably due to the widespread use of seed dressings, says Mr Stevens.