South: Dry weather makes life easier

Many years ago a tractor driver said to me, “It’s a shame dry weather does any ‘arm”, which is quite true really as it certainly makes life easier to deal with.

Nearly all winter drilling has been completed, including winter beans, and quite a large chunk has already been sprayed and possibly put to bed for the winter. We have had enough rain for full germination but not enough to stop progress, which has been great news.

However, the rain has woken the slugs up. I have seen a few crops after winter rape where slug numbers have been very high but they have been eating volunteer rape in preference to the wheat. The problem is that soon the rape will be gone and that’s when they’ll start on the wheat. I’m advising growers to test bait and treat accordingly before the wheat gets badly damaged. Other than that I’ve seen very little damage.

Rain that fell after the dry period has stimulated a fresh germination of grassweeds, particularly in oilseed rape. Most non-ploughed rape needs two graminicides before the spring anyway, so mine will get one with a fungicide sometime soon. Fields with problem grassweeds have carbetamide or propyzamide programmes anyway, but I don’t think it’s yet cool enough to get the best out of these products.

I’ve not yet seen any significant herbicide damage in sprayed cereals despite the early drilling and so-called “soft” crops. We had a couple of frosts about a week ago so that should reduce the risk even further.

I do worry that we’re in for some payback for the dry autumn as nature has a peculiar way of balancing itself out. I hope it doesn’t mean months of deluge. As I quoted earlier, it’s a shame dry weather does any ‘arm.

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