Crop Watch: Press on with pre-emergence spraying despite dry seedbeds

Drilling is well ahead of last year and dry seedbeds are holding slugs at bay. But the lack of moisture is holding crops back and making grassweed control a concern for Farmers Weekly’s Crop Watch agronomists.


Will Foss, UAP agronomist in Suffolk, said dry conditions in the east had resulted in very uneven oilseed rape establishment, but most crops were finding sufficient moisture to survive. Wheat drilling was underway, however, most were being put into dusty or cloddy seed-beds. “Seed rates need to be adjusted upwards in these conditions,” he said.


In the North, the lack of rain was also an issue, but planting was well ahead of last year and growers were already contemplating drilling second wheats, said David Martindale, a TAG agronomist from Yorkshire. “However, the last week in September is typically the earliest timing when used with a take-all seed dressing.”

Rates of graminicide were being increased as dry soils were making grassweeds more difficult to control.

One consolation of the dry weather in the west was that sub-soiling to repair soil damage sustained last year was working well, said Wiltshire AICC agronomist Dan Dines.

Stale seed-beds remained “stubbornly un-green” due mainly to the lack of moisture rather than blackgrass dormancy. “In fields with bad problems try and hold your nerve and let the stale seed-bed green up and drill late.”


In the dry, slug pressure was relatively low, but growers shouldn’t be complacent, said Tod Hunnisett from Hampshire. “This is a good case for monitoring and perhaps mash trapping. But with all the focus on metaldehyde I would shy away from blanket prophylactic treatments.”


Pre-emergence residuals were important, particularly on non-chlorotoluron tolerant varieties, but would work well early post-emergence at the one-leaf stage, he added.


Click below for the full report from each region:

Crop Watch East – Will Foss


Crop Watch North – David Martindale


Crop Watch West – Dan Dines


Crop Watch South – Tod Hunnisett