North: Drilling nearly over despite wet weather

Despite two deluges of rain, the land remains very workable and drilling nears its final conclusion. I am often asked at what point do you stop drilling winter wheat. The main aspect of this conundrum is seed-bed conditions.

As a rule of thumb, after 15 October yield drops approximately 1% per day. The reality is that if seed-bed conditions remain good then yield will not fall until well into November.

Wheat crops in general have established well and slugs have not been a significant issue. Pre-emergence sprays have worked with any follow-up spray dictated by the remaining weeds, such as high blackgrass carryover necessitating an autumn Atlantis spray.

In line with the general acceptance of acronyms, PDM, DFF, CTU and CMPP remain integral parts of the early weed control programme. Winter barley remains a key target for autumn weed control as there is very little flexibility in the product choice outside the acronyms.

Oilseed rape has in general established well, although subsequent growth has been poor. Min-till establishment techniques and combine swaths have led to poor crop growth. Without artificial fertiliser, these crops have struggled to develop a large canopy. Although this is unlikely to have any significant yield effect it does tend to cause large psychological scares with farmers.

Despite the press warnings of phoma epidemics, the reality on the ground for me is that it is present but has only really been evident for the last 10 days. Treatment will be dictated by variety, and canopy size. It is only November but I have to admit that I have already generated the June illuminations for the Vale of Pickering as poppies have evaded my weed control programme.

We have now started to apply Atlantis, propyzamide, and carbetamide despite the advice from the manufacturers to wait for cooler temperatures and complete germination. Unfortunately when I see a carpet of grass weeds on fields I fear that leaving them is a greater sin than waiting for the email telling me the temperature is right.

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