North: Coming to the end of a tough year

At long last we’re reaching the end of a very difficultyear for agronomists.

Two wet seasons coupled with a near normal winter have leftharvest prospects in the balance. As temperatures rise over 25Ccrops with tiny root balls and limited crop cover are becomingstressed.

Winter wheats on the whole look quite good and have made themost of what rain and sun we’ve had. Yellow rust in Oakley has been a problem and will inevitably affectvariety choice for next year.

Looking forward the main worry without doubt is weed control.Any farm that has relied on sulfonylurea chemistry over the pastthree to four seasons must seriously review rotation, cultivationand control programmes.

Winter barleys, having few tillers and thin stands, appear lesspromising. Disease levels have been low and grain set looks good,so there may be a small silver lining to the cloud. On the otherhand, spring barleys look well and could outyield the wintercrops.

Oilseed rape crops look well. Yes, I have written this. But whenI look back and see that 60% of the area was either not drilled orploughed out, I suppose it’s the best of a worst-case scenario.

This year’s autumn rape drillings will pose serious weed controlproblems as we enter life after “T”, as the demise of trifluralinwill seriously compromise poppy control.

Seeing see the traffic jams on the A64 as every buddingDavid Bailey stops to photograph the sea of red inthe rape crops is truly amazing. Next year they may have so manyfields to choose from that jams won’t be a problem.

Lastly, I say hurrah for the unsung hero of arable farming, theoat crop. From the moment it’s drilled and starved on meagrerations until harvested it’s a joy. Selling it can be a bit tricky,but once again it has certainly done its best this year.

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