West: Mild weather helps late drilled crops

The unusually mild weather throughout November has been a great help to all the late drilled crops in the area. With a late maize harvest there has been a significant acreage of wheat planted later than usual this year.

The vast majority of these crops have taken as little as 12 to 14 days to emerge after planting. The mild spell has also allowed later drilled crops of oilseed rape and winter linseed to put on growth and establish better before the onset of winter. Some of the August drilled oilseed rape now has such a large canopy that it now has the potential to become a management headache rather than being straightforward.

Pre-emergence herbicides have either worked really well or grass weeds are slow to emerge this autumn. I have several known brome sites where there is very little sign of  Brome emergence and certainly not enough to go with an Atalantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) or Broadway Star (florasulam and pyroxsulam) application.

This is unfortunate as the mild weather would have made for ideal timing for either of these products, which are temperature dependant for efficacy. Volunteer beans have now been controlled in many crops, particularly those established using non-inversion cultivations.


It has been many years since I have seen so much mildew present in autumn sown cereals this early in the season. It is generating quite a debate on how best to deal with the situation. With availability of mildew specific fungicides a bit of an issue, I believe trying to control mildew with a second choice product at this time of year to be a bit of a folly. The exception to this will be winter barley crops where the disease is so severe that tillers are being lost.

I have yet to see a crop that has been this badly afflicted and as a consequence am not at present recommending any action be taken against the disease. I hope we get some frost soon which will significantly slow the progress of the disease.

As this is my last blog before spring, I would like to urge growers to keep a close eye on their later drilled crops over the winter months. Late-drilled cereals could fall prey to slugs and the smaller crops of oilseed rape will be vulnerable to pigeon attacks. The mild weather has again helped here by delaying the arrival of winter migrant pigeons from the continent, but this situation is now likely to change as temperatures are dropping in northern and eastern Europe. 

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