North: Green crops make for late harvest finish

Despite dire warnings over the tail end of Hurricane Katia at the start of last week, it all turned out well as most Lancashire farmers were finally able to wrap up wheat harvest.


About half has been gathered in four days – the longest run of decent harvesting weather there has been this year – though none came in this year without drying. Even so, it’s a happy ending because yields are probably the best we’ve ever had.  However, a few spring-sown crops of oats and wheat are still to be cut.


Cheshire has fared better and most growers finished a week ago, producing our best ever wheat – some was not really ready for harvesting until September, in any case. So much for Aviator – an excellent product, but still with problems of keeping crops green forever, especially on our foremost variety, Alchemy.


That’s one part of the story of outstanding yields, but it does shunt harvest into a tricky slot. We mostly used Aviator at T2 and followed it with straight tebuconazole at T3, hoping to avoid excessively long greening. But too many crops hung on green for too long. Next year, more of the Aviator will definitely be used at T1.


Oilseed rape crops range across the usual spectrum of development stages, depending on when they were sown. Some have six leaves, while others have only gone in this week. But we are over a week ahead of last year and soil conditions are excellent.


After suffering cabbage root fly last year, which managed a late second generation (thereby wrecking some crops), we’re taking no chances and are already out with a second treatment of foliar insecticide regardless of seed dressings, which, by the time crops have four leaves, are so dilute as to be ineffective.


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