West: Crop potential looks more promising

The April drought has been followed by “a wet and windy May” which  tradition says “will fill  the barns with corn and hay” Let’s hope so!

Wheat flag leaf applications have been made, based on mixes of SDHI chemistry with triazoles and chlorothalonil. Crops are looking well, with septoria confined to lower leaves.  Little mildew or rust has been seen. However, we have had several recent spells of significant rainfall , and so latent septoria infection could easily erupt if treatments are delayed. Final nitrogen applications are being made – particularly on milling varieties . Moist soils should allow good nitrogen uptake.

Some recent leaf testing has highlighted nutrient imbalances, and has indicated where crop nutrition has been inadequate.  I was told recently that a 100 years ago, some tenancy agreements specified that for each cart load of hay or grain taken off  the farm, a load of farm yard manure would need to be brought back in. Simple and not particularly high tech advice – but where these basic principles have been ignored in more recent times, the effects are showing up.

Winter beans look really promising , with massive numbers of flowers. We hope that these will be translated into full pods at harvest. Further protectant fungicides are planned for early pod set.  Spring beans are also catching up, with good plant populations – almost too good where seed rates were generous. Some bentazone treatments have been made in spring bean crops to control charlock seedlings, which slipped through the pre-emergence herbicide treatments.

Linseed crops have also moved on, and are receiving broad-leaved herbicides and nutrient feed.

Greening measures and the need to have more diverse rotations, means that sprayers and fertiliser spreaders have been constantly busy for several months now. Hopefully once we get past the wheat T2 timing, it should be easier.

Attention will soon be turning to deciding next year’s cropping plans.  It used to be quite simple – maybe just choosing a new variety of wheat or oilseed rape to try out. Now there is a greater need to decide which crops can be grown with a reasonable chance of making a positive margin. Luckily for most, blackgrass  is still at controllable levels. But for some there will be some difficult decisions for next season to keep land in a sustainable and profitable state .

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