North: Biblical miracle needed for oilseed rape

May stumbled along managing to balance glimpses of summer with periods of mid-winter! Much needed rain arrived and crops at last greened up. Unfortunately, I think it will take a biblical miracle to make some of the oilseed rape crops rise from the dead.

Having walked many rape fields, you have to swallow very hard before talking to clients to explain that there are spring germinating wild oats, thistles, cleavers, mayweed and now for good luck, seed weevil. This is despite an armoury of chemistry up to this point. I can confidently predict there will be less rape drilled this year!

I have witnessed the full range of wheat development stages; from flag leaf emerged, to leaf three emerging. As a consequence of this, confusion reigns as T0 becomes T1, and then T1 becomes T1.5, and finally T0 is added to T1 to become T2. Let’s settle for “we applied fungicides over a range of timings”.

The drier conditions in April certainly impacted on herbicide activity. Timing appears to have been critical in achieving good levels of control and minimum crop damage. It is very concerning that the control of poppy, chickweed and mayweed has been very variable on sulfonylurea (SU) treated crops. It is particularly worrying that some are dead and others perfectly healthy, which raise the question “are we seeing the first wide scale tolerant weeds?”

With the rain, yellow rust dually arrived; the usual culprits, Oakley and Torch have been joined this year by Claire. The untimely addition of Claire to the more susceptible group is disturbing and could be a final nail in the coffin of what has been the mainstay of early drilling.

T2 sprays will be dominated by SDHI chemistry with the largest area being between Aviator (bixafen + prothioconazole) and Adexar (fluxapyroxad + epoxiconazole), with smaller pockets of Vertisan (penthiopyrad) and Seguris (epoxiconazole + isopyrazam). If dry weather returns many of the very late drilled crops will have a program based around older chemistry.

Take all is now easily visible and the prospects for these crops do not look good. Walking the backwardly thin wheat’s, which dominate my acreage, is at best depressing. I am stealing myself for the first Farmers Weekly pictures showing farmer Smith in Kent combining his 12t/ha Viscount!

Winter Barley crops certainly reflect their drilling date, with early crops looking well and receiving a late growth regulator. Unfortunately, the later drilled crops are a real ‘dog’s dinner’ and salvage is the name of the game.

Spring Barley on the other hand looks resplendent everywhere and all crops have received their weed control. The shortage of loxynil and bromoxynil as partner products will certainly test the efficacy of the SU stable.

Winter Beans have started flowering and will be due for a chocolate spot spray imminently. Spring beans have established well, but with mixed weed control results. Basagran (bentazone) will be applied before flowering in an attempt to limit the damage.

Oats have not been immune to the ravages of the weather, but on the whole look most likely to achieve an “average” yield. Winter oats are rapidly extending and will have had some growth regulator. Mildew can easily be found and recommendations have been left.


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