West: Harvest prospects too close to call

Crops are generally looking quite well but the impact of the continued and prolonged wet weather is impossible to predict. Well over 200mm of rain in both April and June has got to have some negative effect on crop potential.

The effect of drilling date on the levels of Septoria tritici is becoming quite profound. Early drilled crops are showing much more severe levels of infection, even if spray timings have been good. Where timings have been poor on early drilled crops the battle against the disease has been lost.

Later drilled crops have stayed remarkably clean where a 4 spray programme has been used and well timed. There is notably superior septoria control where SDHI chemistry has been used and this improves again if they have been used twice in the programme.

Many of the current varieties will, I suspect, have dramatically revised disease resistance ratings after this year, particularly where brown and yellow rust are concerned. The other concern I have over the wheat crop is how the severe wet weather right through the flowering period might impact on ear fertility and fusarium levels. Only time will tell.

With high winds and wet weather I have seen a few fields of wheat where the crop is beginning to lean due to the whole plant, including the root ball rotating in the soil. This problem should not get any worse if the soil was to dry up and stabilise a little.

The Barley crop seems to be maturing relatively quickly despite the wet weather, but in many cases this is being helped along by varying levels of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV). Florentine and California are exhibiting their superior rhynchosporium resistance quite nicely when compared to Saffron and KWS Cassia. Where rhynchosporium and BYDV have been controlled well the crops of barley are looking like they could be quite heavy.

The oilseed rape crop looks to have potential but in the last fortnight botrytis has started to develop on some pods. This again is wet weather related and is bound to have some impact on yield.

Spring barley on light, free draining soils is looking outstanding, but on heavier soils and poorly drained land the impact of the wet has been quite severe. The crops in these fields give the appearance of not having had their full compliment of Nitrogen and are also poorly tillered and thin

The maize crop on the better sites is at long last trying to grow, but those crops in exposed fields or on marginal sites are really struggling this year. This crop above all others requires the soil to dry up and the weather to warm up if it is going to stand any chance of performing close to expectation.

This report feels like it is quite gloomy. I truly hope that my fears mentioned above fail to materialise and that crops will turn out to be at least average. As this is my last blog of the season could I take the opportunity to wish all readers a successful and, above all, a dry harvest.

See more