South: Cold and dry season brings pros and cons


If I were asked to describe this spring’s growing season in one word, it would be cold. Two words –  cold and dry. It certainly hasn’t been a growy spring. This is not always such a bad thing, crops in general are quite short, and we haven’t been chasing rampant disease. There are some downsides too, though. Herbicides haven’t worked very well, pre-emergence because of the dry and post-emergence because of the cold. First-cut silage looked like it hadn’t had any nitrogen, despite having had its full whack. Maize has looked very sad, especially the early-drilled crops.

Fortunately most places have had enough rain to save the day, except in some coastal extremes where it might have come a bit too late. The temperature is beginning to get to near normal, especially during the day. In fact, the forecast is for a bit of very hot weather, which doesn’t worry me now, as the crops are forward enough to take it, unlike last year.

Having said we haven’t been chasing disease, untreated crops in trials are showing significant levels, which is reassuring to know that what we’ve spent on fungicides has not been a waste of money. Interestingly, along with septoria, both yellow and brown rust are present, it’s unusual to have conditions conducive for both in the same season.

The hotter temperatures have allowed aphids to multiply alarmingly in unprotected crops, especially peas and beans. I tend to think of aphids as I do rabbits or cleavers. If you find one, there’s bound to be more, and if there aren’t now, in a short time there will be millions. It makes a whole mockery of the threshold thing. Fortunately the cereals are far enough advanced now for them not to be a major problem.

Some oilseed rape is beginning to turn, and will be ready for dessication shortly. A simple rule for rape dessication using glyphosate – if you’re not sure whether it’s ready, just wait. Better to go in late rather than too early.


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