North: Sodden soils at field capacity after wet spell

Most districts have had more than their fair share of moisture since my last musings. Soils are generally at field capacity. This may mean that some wheat seed destined for late lifted potato fields will remain in the bag. There will now be limited opportunities for any other field work.

If the temperature of soils continue to fall and it is possible to get on the land, then the chance should be taken to apply propyzamide or carbetamide to those oilseed rape fields that did not get a pre- or early post-emergence weed spray. However, be aware of product stewardship guidelines with regard to slopes, rainfall, watercourses etc.

Slugs are continuing to pose problems, particularly in wheat following oilseed rape and also in late drilled, slow growing crops. Slug pellets should only be used if bait traps indicate that control is necessary. Bear in mind the restrictions to the rate of metaldehyde permitted between 1 August and the turn of the year. Follow the Pelletwise Code with respect to spreading guidelines.

Due to the continuing mild weather there is a low level of mildew appearing in some winter barley crops. Even if the ground and weather conditions improved sufficiently to allow spraying to be undertaken, it is doubtful if disease control would be economically justified.

Right now the main topics of conversation in Scottish agriculture are CAP reform, Greening, Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) and their impact on rotations and bank balances. There have already been several well attended meetings on those topics and many still to come. My advice would be to go to as many as possible as it is quite a task to absorb all the implications at one sitting. I trust these will not prove to be too indigestible come Christmas dinner.

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