North: Challenging conditions abound

Apropos of David Richardson’s recent trenchant article, the arable community in the east of Scotland is mourning the tragic death of Andrew Riddell. Andrew, my CropWatch predecessor, was passionate about agronomy and was also a progressive and able farmer. He wrote many a stimulating and thought provoking piece for this journal. He will be sadly missed and our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time.


As other commentators have noted we are all still dominated by foul weather. The last of the grain harvest has been more or less garnered and potato growers are struggling to lift in porridge like conditions. Establishing winter crops from now on will be more a matter of ground conditions than calendar date.


Oilseed rape crops are as far behind as I can recall. They will be vulnerable to predation by slugs for some time to come and growers will have to be conscious of the metaldehyde stewardship recommendations to prevent ingress into watercourses.

Where clomazome has been included as part of the herbicide package, familiar bleaching symptoms are appearing. These should disappear in due course as the crops grow on. Propyzamide will be the active ingredient of choice for those fields not yet treated. Wait till the soil temperature has dropped and the leaves have waxed up prior to application.

Winter barleys in general have established well and will require treatment for annual meadow grass and broad-leaved weeds in due course. Whilst the rain may have checked the progress of aphids onto newly emerged crops, a spray for BYDV will almost inevitably be needed. This may be incorporated with the herbicide application.


Establishment of winter wheat after potatoes will be extremely challenging as the structure in these fields is fragile to say the least. A light touch will be required. For home saved seed a full rate of seed dressing will be mandatory due to the extremely high levels of microdochium that is present as a result of this season’s weather. It will be difficult to find a sample without some infection. In the main weed control should await successful establishment of the crop.

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