North: Moisture stress critical

The current favourite game played by agronomists and growers is “Beat my Rainfall”. All we need is Bruce Forsyth to host and we have a new game show. In short, there has not been a lot of rain in the south and east of the country. Crops are very short and currently growers might be able to harvest enough straw to knit a jumper with. 

If not critical already, June’s rainfall will be make or break crops. With soil moisture deficits commonly over 110mm, grain fill will be solely reliant on rainfall. An inch of rain at flowering could be worth an additional 2.5 t/ha for cereals. Sunday is the village Gala, so expect the drought to end then.

Not only are the cereals very short, they are also very open and weeds are recovering from earlier spring sprays. This coupled with the late germinating ones means pre-harvest desiccation could be widespread this season.

However, autumn weed control treatments have generally worked very well and areas of “strategic” misses are now very evident. Not all crops are disaster areas and early-drilled cereals on moisture retentive “fit” land still look promising.

I seem to be walking against the flow when I don’t see a huge area of cereals justifying the new SDHI products. With little disease present and no significant rainfall in the near future I’m afraid most will remain with tried and trusted products.

Having spent a fortune on many oilseed rape crops controlling diseases, which I am sure this year will be phantom events, I have some good looking early-drilled crops. Unfortunately, there are more than a few backward and poor crops.

Pod abortion is very common in these and certain varieties are cited as being particularly prone. From my personal experience, it is common on many varieties and the main trigger factor appears to be stress. Late drillings and vermin damaged areas are the worst affected.

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