Richard Crewe is battling midge – reluctantly

We are in that pre-harvest period when we’ve applied all the fungicide protection we can, and now await the insect army.

Wheat midge was first to appear and reluctantly I sprayed our 315ha of hard red spring (HRS) wheat with chlorpyrifos 480 EC.

I believe such OP insecticides kill more friends than enemies, particularly the parasitic wasps that use wheat midge larvae as hosts, then kill next year’s emerging adults.

Next will be Bertha Armyworms on Canola, but forecasts are lower this year.

After July brought both warmth and gentle rain, crops do look good, albeit a week or so behind.

This is also the time when companies have tours showcasing trials of new varieties, herbicides and fungicides.

By far the best was Hudye Soil Services’ Field of Dreams tour, where they are attempting to produce HRS wheat yielding 8t/ha and spring Canola giving 4t/ha.

Last year they were well short of the targets. This year’s crops look better, but the wheat fields are held back by a poor selection of varieties.

That was evident at another tour put on by Viterra, which I have to say was a completely wasted day.

We had to listen to a seed company rep getting all excited about new HRS varieties which gave a 5% increase in yield over a poorly performing check variety.

The chemical reps were worse. I’m sure they were washing powder salesmen in another life. They were trying to explain how a revamped product in a new box is better than last year’s product, when really it’s only a way to hike the price.

Going on that tour meant sacrificing a day hauling Canola.

Next morning I really knew it was a wasted day. I was stopped by the transport police and fined £260 for being 2t overloaded.

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