East: Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Finally we have seen a little glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and with the recent burst of sunshine, crops have moved on quite considerably. Looking at good, clean healthy crops we soon forget the trouble we have had getting them to this stage.

We are now at the hands of the weather and with 4-5 clean leaves on crops a cool bright period will allow good grain fill, which will hopefully mitigate the fall in crop prices experienced over the last few weeks.

Spring crops have been the big success of the year and some spring oilseed rape fields catching up and even overtaking the flowering of some winter crops. Spring beans are also well into flower, with bruchid beetle applications being undertaken at first pod set with the recent warm weather. Due to the huge number of bees foraging it has been essential to check crops prior to spraying and only apply in the early morning or evening when bees are not foraging.

Sugar beet is now starting to meet across the rows however some fields are still not quite there and we continue with the herbicides to keep the weeds under control.

As most OSR fields were like patchwork quilts coming in and out of flowering it is going to be difficult to get the timing of desiccation correct for whole fields. The optimum time for pod sealants is prior to desiccation and this season it may be more beneficial than most due to the huge variations in maturity.

Desiccation will be assessed on a field by field basis and remembering how areas of fields came off flower will be crucial to ensure backward areas of fields are checked prior to desiccation and not sprayed off too soon.

On a slightly different note the recent CAP Reform proposals are indicating that the ‘Greening’ element is going to be implemented, which will involve some degree of crop diversification. For farms over 30ha the requirement will be that at least three crops will have to be grown, the main crop covering up to 75% of the area and the two main crops combined covering no more than 95% of the area. This is obviously going to cause issues for smaller blocks of land farmed on contract farming agreements by larger farming businesses, where we have tried to block crop.

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