West: Fine weather allows catch-up

What a difference a week’s fine weather can make. Mid September saw the ground so wet in mid-Devon that some growers were beginning to fear they might not get crops drilled, let alone finish combining.


At the same time, only 15 miles away in the Exeter area, growers were struggling to plough ground because it was too dry.


The Indian summer has seen the last of the wheat and beans being cut. Wheat yield has held up well despite some sprouted grains. Beans have yielded remarkably well, given how dry the crop was through flowering and pod fill. I was anticipating some very poor crops but yields have come in between 3.75 and 5t/ha.


With the ground drying rapidly drilling has progressed well with the remainder of the rape crop going in well, despite the late timing. These late-drilled crops are going to need careful monitoring for slugs and phoma through the autumn period.


Judging by seed sales winter barley is enjoying a bit of a comeback this autumn with strong sales of KWS Cassia, Saffron and the new variety Florentine. This is partly because spring barleys suffered in the dry spring and partly due to a delayed wheat harvest that held up rape drillings. 


Most barley and wheat crops are receiving a pre-em herbicide immediately after drilling. However, I am getting calls from some to say they have missed the pre-em application as they have been flat out drilling and crops have been up in four to five days.


Care needs to be taken with these crops if the plan is now for a peri-emergence application. With the hot weather the emerging crops are going to be extremely lush and tender and extremely prone to herbicide scorch. Choice of active and timing of application will be key to minimising damage.


Slugs have so far not been too much of a problem in rape crops but have been more in evidence in crops following rape. They are also causing a few problems in some crops of grass reseeds. As the weather cools and becomes wetter we will need to be vigilant.

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