North: Variety change for evolution, not revolution

This is the season that just keeps on giving. Just when you think it can’t get any worse – bang! Hopes of a bountiful harvest are rapidly retreating as the sun refuses to appear. Crops are starting to lodge, but bearing in mind the incessant wind and rain surprisingly the damage is limited. However, this is all except for the rape, which now resembles an intricate lace embroidery pattern?

It always seems perverse that we are deciding on next year’s varieties before we have harvested this one. But having presented, listened too and studied the lists I see only minor changes with our choices in wheat for the next crop. Yet the final run into harvest will still play a key part in the variety selection.

Some important questions remain; will Oakley perform again? Which varieties have lodged and why? With regard to root based fusarium, has any variety been worse or better in its susceptibility? In essence I see some changes due to evolution rather than revolution.

I wince to say this, but yes, some varieties have had a second ear spray with weeks left of ripening, but with Brown Rust starting to charge there seemed little option. Visiting Scotland last week it was a pleasure to see no Brown Rust, although like the rest of the UK all other diseases were healthy and present.

By this time last year the first barleys had been combined and much of the rape desiccated. Needless to say this year it is a blank sheet. Weather permitting; I think that some desiccation will be under way as you read this. Even with a sudden hot spell it looks like harvest will start in August.

Beans look fantastic but the battle with Chocolate Spot is similar to trench warfare. Not only are we spraying repeatedly, we are sinking deeper and deeper in the tramlines. It could soon be white flag time as we surrender before levelling the beans with the sprayer.

Fortunately potatoes are not my speciality but watching a sprayer being towed through a potato field while still spraying was a real eye opener to the difficulties they face. It is certainly the wettest drought I have ever known!

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