North: A funny old season

The only guarantee I ever give clients is that “this year will be different from the past one and also from the next”. And so it came to pass. This time last year I was musing whether wet summers and harvests were to be the norm. Thankfully I was proved wrong! This has been a funny old season. A wet winter, a slow, cold spring, a fine sunny summer and a grand harvest.

This has led to quite a variable out-turn.

Yields have been extremely variable, mainly as a result of last year’s monsoons, but much better than we could have hoped for. Medium soils in general coped better than extremely heavy or very light ground. Results from winter sown crops in particular reflected the affect of the wet autumn and winter. Having said that, quite a number of wheats have performed above expectations.

Spring barleys have generally yielded better than average; however, grain nitrogen has been higher than normal. This is not really surprising considering the lack of leaching this season – the crop got most of the fertiliser rather than some of it being lost to Mother Nature.

The continuing settled weather has allowed growers to undertake remedial action on battered subsoils. The scars of the past mean that many clients are taking the opportunity to establish crops early in excellent conditions. Crop areas seem likely to return to the more traditional acreages. However, whilst earlier established crops will have greater exposure to weed, pest and disease pressure, I reckon most would settle for that to get a decent crop going into the winter.

Many oilseed rape crops were sown in mid-August and have established well. Many will have had a permutation of metazachlor and clomazome or quinmerac, which has worked well due to the speed of crop growth and enough soil moisture.

These forward crops will require a light leaf spot spray, which should also have activity on phoma. A fungicide with growth regulatory action will be a must. In the past a prothioconazole/tebuconazole mix has sufficed. In extremely lush crops this season some metconazole may be required.

Early sown barley and wheat crops will require an insecticide to nail the aphids carrying BYDV. Weeds will also need attention before the winter shutdown.

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