North: Lock horns with oilseed rape weeds

As 2010 harvest draws to a close in a beautiful September the best phrase to sum the year up is “A curate’s egg”, good in parts. Fertility and soil type have been key aspects for the year reflecting the cold dry early spring, with deep fertile soils yielding very well when compared to shallow or light soils.

Oilseed rape drilling is nearly complete and once again we lock horns with weed control issues. Knowing the enemy is a key factor with poppy, cranesbill and cleavers singled out for particular attention.

Metazachlor will be a staple with quinmerac and clomazone added as per weed spectrum. The early drilled rape has established well and is ready for the first graminicide, flea beetle grazing is not widespread but specific fields will have a insecticide added. Further grass weed control will be linked to the degree of blackgrass or brome present.

Slugs have been absent up to now and pellet applications restricted to known problem areas.  August Bank Holiday weekend was very windy and despite min till techniques some blow damage has occurred to tender rape plants on sand land.

Wheat drilling has been delayed due to the very dry conditions, cultivations are continuing with the roller following close behind to preserve moisture. Drilling will start in earnest this week. Pre or peri-emergence herbicide applications are becoming increasingly more important.

This is a farmers and agronomists nightmare. Nobody wants to stop drilling to spray. We are a generation who expect to have a product in a can, in the cupboard that would kill any weed, the adverts always told us. Unfortunately the weeds can’t read and resistance is a serious issue. For many no pre-emergence spray means no crop. Remember the tag line from school Stop Look and Listen?

In logistic terms harvest in Yorkshire has gone well, with rain not being a significant player. It may seem ironic as we start the new season but I would settle for an “average year” for harvest 2011.

See more