South: Dry weather continues

It is not difficult to predict weather at the moment. Dry followed by dry and dry again seems to be the order of the day. Couple this with the constant wind draining the little moisture that there is in the soil, it is a scenario for serious yield loss. We had 35mm of rain on the weekend of 5 – 6 May and another 2mm last weekend, but this is all but gone in the strong winds.

I estimate that on the thinner soils we have lost about half a ton per acre in both winter wheat and barley. With spring barley it is any ones guess. The only exception is better land where nitrogen was applied early and it caught the March rain.

Here we have four to five tillers per plant in winter barley and wheat and the crops are looking surprisingly well. On the thinner land where the nitrogen timing has gone astray the crop is single tillered. Something I have not observed for a very long time.

T2 fungicides have been applied to the winter wheat and barley and it is predicament whether to apply the T3 fungicide to wheat. Cereal prices are riding high and could well go even higher once the full effect of the extent of the drought is realised. Therefore it is imperative to keep the good crops going for as long as possible since every grain is worth a lot of money. My advice is applying the T3 fungicide to the better looking crops especially the milling wheats. Try to include a stobilurin element in the fungicide mix (as long as two strobilurin applications have not already been made) to cover against the yellow rust and keep the crop green for longer.

Oilseed rape crops have finished flowering and the majority are looking good with up to 50 pods on the main raceme. As long as we get some rain in June, the crop should yield well but if not then we are going to end up with small seed. The dry weather has shown variability in soil fertility and has resulted in some uneven oilseed rape crops needing to be desiccated before harvest.

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