South: An unfortunate view over Morecambe Bay

Apparently scientists are saying that “the UK has experienced its weirdest weather on record in the last few months”. I am not sure weird would be my adjective of choice to describe the dire weather of the last few weeks!

Drilling plans have been left in complete disarray and I estimate that only 40% of the planned autumn cereal acreage in my area has been planted up to 21 October. Some of the remainder is so wet that on the heavy land it is extremely unlikely to get planted this autumn.

Of the wheat that has been planted some is emerging well with little slug activity. The bulk of the area planted to date follows oilseed rape and a combination of extreme slug pressure, an inability to roll, seed with seemingly poor vigour and waterlogged soils causing seed to rot means much of the drilled area does not look pretty, the very worst fields look like Morecambe Bay when the tide has gone out!

Pre-emergence sprays are being delayed by the weather. To avoid herbicide damage where the crop has not been rolled my advice is be careful, check seed depth and, if necessary, wait until rain settles the loose soil covering the seed before application. One consolation is that I have not seen much blackgrass emerging on drilled fields yet. Forward crops, drilled without a Deter (clothianidin) or similar dressing, will require an insecticide shortly to protect against BYDV.

Oilseed rape crops are still a very mixed bag and phoma is now present at threshold levels. The difficulty is deciding which crops to treat first. Small plants will succumb quickly to stem canker and need treating first, but there is a reluctance to spend money on these for fear of them “not making it through winter”. I sympathise with this dilemma, but if these small crops are not treated as soon as phoma appears, yield potential will be severely limited and the yield loss could be as high as 30-40%.

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