North: Weather finally playing ball

Give thanks: the weather is finally playing ball. Its been dry enough during wheat flowering to avoid another Fusarium disaster on the ear, but also wet enough to avoid one affecting the root systems, which are all very heavily infected. Hopefully, the spectre of a repeat of last season should now be expunged from our memories.

Foliar disease control, especially septoria, has again been excellent and the development of eyespot in the stem bases just about contained using a prothioconazole mix at every turn. Crops that looked a total waste of time in May are now looking half-decent. Even most of the February-sown wheat has turned out not too bad after all.

The only variety that clearly doesn’t take to February sowing is JB Diego – not surprisingly.  Alchemy is still the wheat to beat – its bomb-proof in all situations. It takes sowing from September to March and can stand being nearly flooded all winter. No other wheat can match this survivability and versatility and still come up with a decent yield.

Spring crops have also rallied with some rain in each week and they are now looking quite nice, especially the barleys.  Spring oats look reasonable, but the winter oats (sown in spring) have been sluggish and are only just heading now, so will be mid-September to harvest. However, we’re not complaining – at least there will be a harvest and that’s better than it looked at one stage.  Disease levels are all low and most spring crops will wash their faces.

The tricky part of the equation now is getting rotations back into line and ordering seed.  With the carry-over of poor quality seed from 2012, we are desperate to avoid having to sow year-old wheat seed if at all possible – it was total rubbish last year and cannot have improved.  Oat seed from last year is also poor but year-old barley seed is not a problem.

Finding land on which to sow oilseed rape by the new deadline of 5th September will be difficult and no new seed will be ordered until sowing is in sight.  Plantings will again be halved. Wheat plantings will be high and barley will continue its resurgence – especially with hybrids such as Volume, which is excellent.  Oat plantings are set to plunge because we’re over-done with them now and so will be sowing wheat and barley after them.  Bring on harvest.


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