North: Monitor oilseed rape for slugs

This weekend saw a couple of glorious sunny days. However, with the mercury dropping below zero overnight I guess this doesn’t really qualify as a late Scottish summer.


Most growers have finished combining, but there is a considerable amount of straw waiting to be baled. Bean crops seem intent on providing work for those who get bored between Christmas and New Year. Potato lifting is still proving to be a trial with self-propelled harvesters being imported from further south to try to salvage potential crop write-offs.


In general, oilseed rape crops are looking well although growers had to be vigilant in preventing predation by a slug population, which has enjoyed the monsoon conditions. Whilst most growers choose rape varieties with a good resistance to light leaf spot, a robust autumn treatment is required to fulfil yield potential.


Growth regulation is not going to be needed this autumn, so an application of flusilazole or prothioconazole – or a mixture of the two – will be ideal and will take care of any phoma as well. A pyrethroid insecticide can be tank-mixed with the light leaf spot spray to control winter stem weevil.


Winter cereal brairds, where drilling has been possible, are surprisingly good and every attempt should be made to arrest the development of annual meadow grass before the onset of winter.


A combination of chlorotoluron/diflufenican (check variety tolerance) and pendimethalin/picolinafen will provide cost-effective control. Angled jets will improve control in difficult situations. As with oilseed rape, slugs are proving to be a menace particularly in cloddy seed-beds.


Given that the harvesting conditions have been far from ideal, the management of potatoes in store will be vital. Positive ventilation and constant monitoring will be required to prevent the crop running out of the door.


For most of us, this has been a very testing growing season. Roll on next year!

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