West: Hoping to catch up before Xmas!

After six weeks of constant rain, we are lagging behind other areas of the country. There is a large area of  winter wheat still to be planted and as in 2012, we are again looking at how late we can drill, how high a seed rate should be used and whether we should ‘avoid drilling in the month before and the month after Christmas’. There is a stronger resolve this year not to maul in wheat when ground conditions are poor and to treat the soil with the respect it deserves.

There is a backlog of herbicide and barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) treatments to be applied. Most wheats had a pre- or peri- emergence treatment, but some have had neither and will need an Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) or Unite (flupyrsulfuron + pyroxsulam) treatment, together with a strong residual partner. These treatments need to be applied onto a dry blackgrass leaf in December  – which is always a challenge.

Oilseed rape crops are needing propyzamide applications. Soils are cool enough for application and should soon be dry enough to travel. Fungicides will be added as phoma is easily found. As it’s been so warm and wet, some large rape canopies have been eaten back by slugs in recent weeks.

Discussions are now turning to spring break options. Spring beans were disappointing this year despite good yields previously. Linseed this year generally did well, but the late ripening and harvest may make it less popular next year. Spring barley has yielded well this year, but it is not a break crop, although it can easily  be followed by winter rape. Spring wheat was also a good option in 2013 with additional benefits for blackgrass control. There will also be more confidence in planting  remaining on farm winter bean and winter oat seed in the spring – as we know that their vernalisation requirements are low.

Let’s hope 2014 is easier.





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