North: Crops have great potential in the North West

Our crops are carrying potential and lets hope we can make a margin on them because it’s going to require some skill. Against prices that are struggling around break-even, it’s essential to extract the maximum yield while trying to contain costs. Situation normal.

Thankfully, all the overwintered crops are in excellent shape and have great root systems; obvious by the green and vigorous tillering. However, there is already loads of disease. Should we be bothered by all that rust, septoria and mildew? No, not really, don’t be panicked; just work out a thorough disease control programme and stick to it. Make your plan and know what its all going to cost you – your agronomist must fess-up to this fully in advance – don’t wait for nasty surprises and a row about spend. And while you’re at it, get products ordered so that there’s not another row about supply.

Weeds are all sorted – well, the nasty ones are anyway; what’s left is the easy stuff. So its all about control of disease, lodging and getting the correct level of nitrogen into crops at the correct timing. For now, they all look like they contain the first dressing of nitrogen already, so we’re not going to be rushing at them with more until its obvious that they need it – think about lodging control. Some forward cereals will not require nitrogen till April.

Likewise, oilseed rape is mostly very forward with large canopies, although a bit bashed about by winter. It will recover quickly and most is obviously so full of nitrogen already that early doses will be minimal. There will be some useful economies to be made on nitrogen doses, for sure.

So it looks like being a staggered start to the season with fungicides and growth regulators, while the only fertiliser spreading is a bit of potash while you’re waiting for the real action to start. Meanwhile, spring barley could be going in the ground this week, which is the great start that it really needs.

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