South: Dry weather heightens pest activity

We had 6mm of rain at the beginning of April and that was the first for three weeks, so everything remains very dry. But surprisingly, the well established winter crops don’t appear to have suffered too much, especially those that received a reasonable early dose of nitrogen.


Earlier drilled spring crops look fine, but those drilled later may struggle a bit until they get some rain with the exception of early drilled linseed, which seems to have been hammered by flea beetle.


The warm conditions have increased insect activity. We have had the pollen beetle panic followed by unprecedented levels of pea and bean weevil in emerging crops. Now this can seriously reduce yields so prompt action is worthwhile, and repeat action is often necessary.


Why we do not have access to insecticidal seed treatment technology for these crops defeats me. At least the seed treatments on linseed and spring oilseed rape seem to work well provided the crop emerges and grows away quickly enough.


Disease levels in cereal crops are generally extremely low at the moment, with the exception of one block of Oakley I inherited that turned the dogs – and my boots – yellow as we walked through them. I do not often panic too much about yellow rust around here, having been able to keep on top of it satisfactorily in the likes of Robigus and Solstice, but I have not seen rust like this since the days of Slepner.


Fortunately, our armoury is vastly improved since those days and the Oakley has since had a massive dose as a T0 spray and will continue to get money thrown at it if the disease stays active. Unless the crop yields extremely well I will certainly never recommend anybody grows the variety again.

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