North: Wet conditions have hit winter barley

Slowly we are progressing through harvest and I keep tellingmyself that we are in a better position than last year, althoughafter days like Thursday and Friday when 30-40mm of rain fell it isdifficult to believe.

Yields and quality have been dictated by the weather lastautumn. Wet conditions have taken their toll on winter barley andsecond wheat yields and drought in some areas this spring penalisedsome spring barley yields. Weather at harvest has raised a fewquality issues with barley. Despite being generally low nitrogenand screenings, some barley was ripe when the bad weather struckand has suffered germination problems. Unfortunately, if it hasgerminated once it can’t do it again, which is again leading peopleto look at cropping and wonder what are the best options.

We have seen a lot of oilseed rape sowings intofairly ideal seed-bed conditions and very rapid emergence. Most ofthis has gone in after winter barley, which again shows therotational benefits of winter barley. Oilseed rape is a major cropin this area as growers are looking to again establish a largerfirst wheat area in their rotation. I can see rape plantings goingon for another week or two, particularly with varieties likeExcalibur with its hybrid vigour. Weed control is being donepre-emergence when ground conditions and establishment techniqueallows using mainly metazachlor and quinmerac or, alternatively, atfully expanded cotyledon in conjunction with volunteer cerealcontrol.

When combines have not been going and ground conditions allow,some early wheat has been planted as fields become clear. Popularvarieties seem to be Viscount, which has done very well, andOakley, despite negative publicity on yellow rust. It is a diseasewe can control with a sound fungicide programme.

More seed than ever this season is being treated with Deter(clothianidid) mainly as part of an integrated slug controlprogramme to reduce grain hollowing but, as importantly thisseason, to give aphicidal activity to hopefully reduce the need foran insecticide for BYDV vectors. This fits nicely with a lot ofgrowers moving to pre/peri-emergence herbicide options for meadowgrass control using reduced rates of a flufenacet-based treatmentand adding a suitable partner product to boost BLW control.

On the slug front, surprisingly, numbers have been low foroilseed rape establishment but traps this weekend have been showingincreased numbers, so wheat establishment could be a differentissue. We must all be aware of the metaldehyde issues and we arevery heavily promoting the stewardship guidelines toour growers to try and protect this vital active ingredient.

Hopefully this next week will see our harvest completed andground conditions will allow planned autumn cropping to bedrilled.

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