North: Pigeons needs a map for large oilseed rape crops

November has passed like a scene in the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day with every day being a repeat of the last one, dull, dry and still. This makes your friendly agronomist look a fool as every week he declares “that’s it for the year, put the sprayer away we won’t get any more spray days!” This is followed the following week by “let’s spray that late drilled wheat”. 

With such a mild and prolonged autumn, crops look really well and a flock of a few thousand sheep could fatten over winter in North Yorkshire and not make an impact. Yellow rust can now be found in the Oakley crops and is fighting a battle for leaf space with mildew. No spraying is planned for theses crops this autumn, but T0 will have to be timed well in the spring. Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) sprays are working well, but nerves start jangling when there are still a few blackgrass plants looking healthy.

Winter barley has developed very rapidly and has disturbing levels of mildew particularly on the varieties Cassia and Cassata. Despite my best efforts to ignore this some crops have been sprayed.

My reluctance to spray is based on dim and distant memories of my ADAS days when autumn disease treatments often gave a negative response. This coupled with the belief that frosts will arrive soon. However, when mildew is on the newly emerging leaf I feel treatment is justified.

The best crops of oilseed rape are the late drilled ones which look perfect to go into winter. The early drilled crops are currently reaching for the sky and any self respecting pigeon would not dare enter them without a compass and a map!

Spring canopy management of these is going to be a challenge if the winter stays open.  Some crops are stem extending, however, most of these tend to contain numerous spring rape volunteers. Rapid winter growth has already flushed out some pale patches in crops showing distinct magnesium deficiency symptoms well worth a look over.

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