12 December 1998

Bindweed has been a problem in linseed this year. We sprayed it with Ally which appeared to do a good job, but at harvest there was a heavy undergrowth of bindweed which did not respond successfully to Roundup.

Does this weed come later and would a residual weedkiller be a better idea?

R Stones,

Drax Hall Farm, Drax, Selby.

Yes, the weed will keep coming at you, especially in an unsettled summer with frequent wetting. So it is best to treat the weed as late as possible.

Ally would have had a small residual effect, but is not brilliant on bindweed. Ally plus Vindex would have improved bindweed kill and broadened the spectrum of weed activity.

I am not surprised that Roundup did not work well because bindweed has a very waxy leaf. Reglone would have worked better in burning it off.

Andrew Fisher,

Yorkshire Arable Advice, Harrogate.

Letters to

the Editor

THE conduct of the CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) never ceases to amaze me. How can it be so out of touch with the rural voice? First it failed to support the Countryside Rally this year, in which all sections of the British countryside felt moved to demonstrate a unity never seen before; that absence was noted.

Now it says a pesticide tax would be as successful as the landfill tax! My gateways are now full of fly tip rubbish, as are those of my fellow landowners. Does anyone at the CPRE ever leave the office and talk about these issues? If so, they must be talking to the wrong people.

Im afraid the sad truth is that most rural opinion places the CPRE in the same camp as the RSPB, RSPCA and English Nature in their attitude to the rural way of life – that is ill-informed and unhelpful. Might I suggest a change to the CPRE slogan (Your countryside, your voice – ed.), its laughable in the context of the CPREs political agenda.

Julian Swift,

St Mary Hall Farm, Belchamp Walter, Sudbury, Suffolk.

PGRO would like to draw readers attention to two slips in Recommended List data for variety trials included in the issue of Pea and Bean Progress mailed with Crops, 7 November.

The percentage yield of Espace at Winchester should have read 103 (not 193) and Arrow at Chatteris should have been given as 107 (not 197). For both varieties, the 1998 harvest mean was correctly given as 104% and 113%, respectively.

Geoffrey Gent,

director, PGRO, Peterborough.

Toasting a worthy winner

PRINCE and his antics on that grey Fergie certainly caught readers imagination and boosted the Crops postbag.

A pleasingly small section of the readership accused our natty Jack Russell x Bedlington of suffering from problems of wind – one even suggested the driver might be! Viagra reared up in one entry. Several other themes also emerged – directional advice, bonnet mascots and the Fergies lack of weighting.

A suspiciously hand-written entry from Prince had to be rejected on grounds of collusion but several others made us chuckle: "Ill look ahead for the HSE man whilst you keep a look out behind" – Richard Baker, Bustard Farm, Fordingbridge; "My feet are cold, my nose is blue, I hope we go home soon from the ploo" – M Miller, of Wester Delnies, Nairn; and "Im getting off this thing the minute I see a tree" – John Cross, White House Farm, Witnesham, Ipswich.

Nobody, however, picked up on the Crops team thoughts about GPS (guided pooch system, of course). Still, the boss wouldnt let us drink the bubbly ourselves so the champagne goes to Roger Frere, of Great Holland in Essex, who we thought had the snappiest of the entries on a bone theme – "Im telling you…I buried it here somewhere".

First samples have been taken for SulphurCheck, the regular watching brief for Crops readers set up by The Sulphur Institute, Levington Agriculture and Hydro Agri.

MOST of the sites sampled show very little change in sulphur and nitrogen readings but there are signs a trend could develop, says Levingtons Ian Richards.

On two sites losses of both N and S were probably due to leaching. "The interesting thing will be to see what has been the effect of the heavy rainfall in November. With the 12 sites covered we should be able to pick up major leaching events and be able to give application advice for all crops in the spring."

He is expecting large losses of nitrogen this year because soil reserves are high at 70-80kgN/ha upwards. Only exceptionally dry conditions in December and January will counteract the effect.

Soil Soil mineral N Soil mineral S

0-90cm kgN/ha 0-90cm kgS/ha

County Texture Clay% Sept Oct Change Sept Oct Change

Devon Sandy loam 13 117 105 -12 61 52 -9

Devon Sandy loam 12 38 57 20 38 35 -3

Devon Sandy loam 17 49 49 0 97 91 -5

Devon Clay loam 23 86 403 317 73 94 21

Lincs Sandy loam 15 84 110 26 77 183 106

Lincs Sandy loam 17 96 44 -52 412 330 -82

Lincs Sand 5 133 133 1 94 115 21 Lincs Loamy sand 7 82 98 16 67 76 8 Suffolk Sandy loam 9 84 91 7 45 47 2 Suffolk Sandy loam 16 24 25 1 107 98 -9

Suffolk Sandy silt loam 14 112 123 12 67 68 1

Suffolk Sand 5 24 21 -3 43 27 -16

Average 77 105 28 98 101 3