South: Putting crops to bed

We are coming to the end of what has been an interesting season to say the least. Winter cereals established in ideal conditions last autumn, followed by three months of rain that only relented when it was replaced by thick snow. Then we had two months of virtually no rain and temperatures dipping down to -12C in mid May, with an almost constant northerly wind.

Consequently, winter crops were very late in moving away in the spring and in our area, but disease levels were virtually nonexistent. The problem was that we were constantly being promised rain round the corner that never actually arrived so making decisions on fungicide use was very difficult. The final result has been that I have never used fewer plant growth regulators and mildewicides and I could possibly have got away with using even less than I did. But the rain finally did arrive and gave me confidence that the lightweight earwash I recommended was justified.

The late rain may just have come in time to save some wheat crops. It has certainly made them look better. It has also allowed the spring crops to fill in but will lead to some linseed and spring bean crops having two different growth stages.

The rain has also triggered a germination of broadleaved weeds and spring wild oats, and on top of less than effective residual herbicides and poor efficacy of sulfonylurea herbicides, this will no doubt lead to some tatty crops come harvest time.

The next couple of weeks will be used to wrap up the odd fungicide recommendation on spring beans, peas and linseed, if the ubiquitous “they” have left us with any products we can still use on these crops. After that will be oilseed rape dessication recommendations. Then we start all over again.

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