West: Blackgrass reluctant to chit until October


The earliest crops of oilseed rape, which were drilled into moisture, are now very strong and have six leaves. Early graminicides have been applied, and we now wait for temperatures to drop so that propyzamide can be applied. Some crops may even require a growth regulator.

We have not yet seen phoma, but it has already been observed further west. It usually arrives with us by bonfire night. Regrettably the costs of growing oilseed rape are heavily loaded in the autumn. So is the workload – with herbicide sequences required together with insecticides and fungicides – and the inability to tank mix and the need for 14 day gaps between some treatments. This is not easy in a wet October.

Later crops, which didn’t have moisture after sowing have been much slower to establish – but recent warm, wet weather has saved the day. Most crops have now reached the critical three-leaf stage, so should now be safe going into the winter.

For many it has been reasonably easy to drill wheat early. As usual blackgrass seems to be reluctant to chit before October or until a crop is sown. Determination by some to delay drilling on difficult fields, until a good chit of blackgrass has been controlled by glyphosate, means that there is still much undrilled land.

It has been well documented that blackgrass control is a numbers game – and delaying drilling is essential where blackgrass populations are high.  Hopefully a settled spell of dry weather will allow drilling to be completed. Soils are still warm for the time of year to allow good establishment.  It does take a lot of courage and conviction to delay when others have drilled all around you.

Slugs have been a problem in wheat following trashy break crops – especially on later sowings, which have taken longer to emerge. Pre-emergence herbicide mixes have been applied on the majority of sown wheats. These appear to be working well but in some cases follow up treatments are expected for November.

Bean acreages have increased  due to the requirement for greening –  plus the rotational benefits of legumes. We are planning to increase seed rates slightly this autumn – and to ensure that robust pre -emergence treatments are made. Post emergence treatments on beans are very limited  – and weedy break crops have a nasty knock on effect to the following wheat crops.



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