West: Slow start for oilseed rape

Oilseed rape planting is now complete.  Emergence and early growth has generally been quite slow, with crops appearing to lack some vigour.  Possible reasons for this include small seed size, and last seasons stressful growing conditions.  Hopefully the 25 kg/ha nitrogen applied to most crops will help then grow before cold weather and shorter days arrive.

Slug problems have thus far not been too bad.  However, later drilled crops that are just emerging will be more vulnerable, so vigilance will be required.

All crops received an insecticide seed dressing for flea beetle control.  Thus far this has protected crops successfully, but monitoring required as activity does start to drop off over time.  Turnip sawfly larvae have been found in some turnip crops, so need to be aware of this  pest in rape crops.

Very early drilled wheat crops in my experience do not yield that well, are costly to grow and cause problems with grass weeds.  So, fortunatley, wheat drilling has not started until this week.

Where stale seed-beds were created a month or more ago there has been a good flush of grass-weeds etc.  Where possible/practical this should be backed up by later drilling.

Pre-em herbicide applications will be based around flufenacet + either pendimethalin or diflufenican.  There will also be more Avadex used this year, which offers an alternative chemical group in the continued battle against resistance.  In fields where we are trying to avoid using Atlantis this year, the strategy will be to stack residuals.

Where the slug risk is considered to be very high an application of pellets will be made as soon as the field is drilled and rolled.  Whilst the prophylactic application of pellets should normally be avoided, in these situations I am sure it results in a lower overall usage of pellets, as the slugs are dealt with before they do damage.

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