East: Battle with pigeons begins

Speaking to farming friends further west makes it clear how fortunate we have been in the east to get as much drilled as we have, with approximately 80% of the planned wheat area drilled to date.

Some of the first drilled wheat was planted about a month ago and is now at 2-3 leaves. Crops planted into reasonably good seed-beds have not suffered slug hollowing, however, grazing at emergence has been a significant problem with several applications of metaldehyde used, followed by ferric phosphate where required.

More recent drilling has been too wet to roll, therefore slug hollowing is a greater risk, so constant monitoring of the crop is required and metaldehyde or ferric phosphate pellets applied accordingly. Based on the levels of metaldehyde detected in water being 40-50 times over the legal limit in some catchments, slug control is only going to get harder in the future.

Oilseed rape is between cotyledon and six leaves and although the slugs seem to have been controlled, the battle against pigeons has now begun. Low levels of phoma have been seen in some of the earlier drilled crops, however, these plants are larger and at lower risk, so priority is still to get herbicides onto wheat as it emerges – especially with blackgrass emerging also. OSR fungicides will follow on when possible with particular attention paid to the smaller, slower developing crops, especially where phoma is present.

Hopefully winter beans will be planted in the next fortnight depending on ground conditions. Again, the importance of testing seed has been highlighted, with some bean seed having lower germination and high stem nematode levels due to the wet spring. If this is the case then alternative seed should be used to avoid contaminating the soil with high levels of stem nematode.

A final point to bear in mind is Soil Protection Reviews (SPR). With the continued wet weather most growers will have entered waterlogged land which needs to be recorded within the SPR book to ensure compliance with GAEC 1.

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