West: Rain arrives to help oilseed rape crops

After a month of glorious weather the much needed rain has finally arrived. We hope that it is not too late for the later sown oilseed rape, which has sat as un-imbibed seed in dry seed-beds for a month. We have a huge range of rape growth stages, from dry seed to 8 leaves where the crop caught some moisture in late August.

The oilseed rape has to make a good start. With such a poor crop price and the astronomical cost of early inputs such as pre-emergence herbicides, it is hard to see where any margin is going to come from. It’s going to take a crop of 2012 proportions to see any profit.

Now the rain has started first in the queue to start snatching margin away will be phoma. At least down here in the South West we have not needed to repeatedly treat flea beetle. We have found Myzus persicae, which is going to need an expensive insecticide except where we have sown TuYV resistant Amalie. The breeders will surely introduce this trait into their future generation varieties, another example of what a major role the plant breeders must play in managing the resistant pest and disease threats in years to come. One wonders if they will ever manage to break the link between effective, long term polygenic disease resistance and yield.

With the rain has come wind, which will play havoc with plans to apply timely pre-emergence herbicides to cereal seed-beds. Such is the magnitude of these mixes, they would be better named skyscrapers than stacks. Once upon a time in farming’s rose tinted past a stack was somewhere you kept hay, now it’s something to stop you making a wheat crop into hay! More and more costs heaped onto a miserable product price.

Stale seed-beds have been effective this year and we have managed to get one or two good flushes of blackgrass. Watch your sequencing of glyphosate products to ensure you remain label compliant. I am hopeful we have made a good start to the blackgrass programme this year despite some crops going in a little earlier than desirable. My pleas to the machinery manufacturers to introduce a 1 October time delay function to their drills seem to have fallen on deaf ears! Blackgrass emergence in crops now at 1-leaf stage is currently at a low level. The rain will reveal the true winner of the weed versus herbicide battle. The high number of aphids seen in crops and volunteers this autumn makes me incredibly happy that we still have clothianidin on cereals.

We have not seen a massive swing into pulses to cover greening requirements. We have a lot of hedges to help out. It is incomprehensible that the powers that be have not resolved the issue of square metres equivalent for one side of a hedge only. Of further annoyance is the fact that because hedges have not been fully mapped, payment of the greening part of the Basic Payment Scheme subsidy may be delayed.

Out to the fields now to test drive the new wellies!

See more