Crop Watch VIDEO: Scots suffer damp harvest but south’s too dry

Many Scottish growers are still battling with the legacy of the wettest harvest for years, while in many areas further south lack of moisture has been a key concern.

North of the border the “Indian summer” lasted all of three days, said AICC agronomist Hamish Coutts.

“There are still areas of crop to cut in the later and more northern regions. Many fields have got straw lying in the bout; farmers fortunate enough to have made bales cannot move them due to the fragile state of the ground.”

Deep ruts caused by harvesting machinery would affect second and continuous wheat establishment, he added, though winter rape and winter barley had generally been established into acceptable seed-beds.

“Slugs have enjoyed the extreme moisture and pellet strengths have been tested to the limit.”

Potatoes would be difficult to market this season and prompt and efficient drying would be essential to protect quality, he advised.

In Shropshire bone-dry soils within a 15-20-mile radius of Shrewsbury were proving a headache for many of AICC agronomist Bryce Rham‘s customers.

Many crops were struggling to emerge, including rape drilled six weeks ago. “I would guess that this predicament is affecting approximately half my combinable area,” he said.

“At least an inch of rain is needed to get crops chitting/emerging. Rape that is not up yet is going to need a mild autumn. Six clients have been trying to irrigate rape crops among the high winds.

“Being positive, most crops are drilled; there is a small acreage of wheat left to go in after maize, spuds and fodder beet. We have no issues with slugs on wheat after rape.”

In the east, recent rainfall had eased the dry soil problem, said Suffolk-based Marion Self of Prime Agriculture.

Cereal establishment and oilseed rape growth had evened up and growers who had delayed drilling were finally achieving reasonable seed-beds.

“If any pre-or early post-emergence sprays have been delayed they should be applied swiftly before grass weeds emerge,” she said.

 

Cereals that had not been treated with an insecticidal seed dressing (eg Deter) should be sprayed to protect against aphids and barley yellow dwarf virus infection, while early-sown seed-treated crops might also need a foliar follow-up in mid October, she advised.

Some forward oilseed rape crops would receive an autumn growth regulator and she expected phoma lesions to appear soon.

Watch Marion’s Self’s video report

Iain Richards of Masstock Arable said hot and dry conditions had affected establishment of later-sown wheats and their variability suggested some seed rates were on the low side.

Insects were now the main concern in the central south after the long warm spell of weather.

“Aphid numbers on cereals and oilseed rape are the highest for many years and we’re finding the first gout fly eggs on wheat.”

Leaf miner, cabbage stem flea beetle and turnip sawfly caterpillars were active in oilseed rape crops too. “The combinations we’re seeing this season can be very damaging.”

The dry conditions were, ironically, causing slug concerns in cereals as heavier ground dried out. “We’ve seen more seed hollowing than for many years.”