South: Annual pattern of heavy autumn rainfall a concern

“Delay drilling”, they say. “Get a fine, firm, moist seed-bed. Make sure you get your pre-ems on pre-emergence of the weeds, and if necessary follow up with a peri-emergence to back it up. Mix and match your actives to minimise resistance risk………”

All the best laid plans, eh? That’s what I thought as I looked at a stack of residual chemicals in the store having just looked at a later–drilled block of wheat coming up alongside a marvellous crop of blackgrass without a cat in hell’s chance of getting on the ground to do anything about it.

Am I the only consultant who wonders how we are going to continue to cope with a significant proportion of our annual rainfall falling over a two month period straight after drilling? Give up growing cereals on heavy ground? So we have no choice but to reach for the ALS-inhibitor contact materials we’re all told to use judiciously if we want to preserve their efficacy. And then what if we get brome coming up after Christmas? We’re stuffed. Good old HRAC.

On a slightly less pessimistic note, the earlier drilled crops, on the whole, look well, if we have been able to keep the slugs off them. The moisture has resulted in generally good weed control, even if there has been more crop uptake and effect than we’ve seen for a few years. I tend not to worry too much about autumn crop effect. My observation is that if it tickles up the crops it generally does a spectacular job on the weeds. Some exceptions though; ironically the fantastic seed-beds we were able to get on heavy ground this year followed by very heavy rain has in some cases led to the ground running together and the crop struggling to emerge. In those cases the herbicide effect certainly hasn’t helped.

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