South: How we love global warming

The statement I’ve heard repeated more than any other this harvest is “I want to forget all about this year – let’s move on to the next one”. A philosophical and stoical view after one of the most challenging seasons in living memory.

Ask any farmer about the “benefits” of “prolonged green leaf area” while they’re unblocking their rotary combine for the third time and you’re likely to get short shrift. And it seems to be worse where glyphosate was applied pre-harvest; the straw has become so absorbent it’s like combining a Norfolk reed-bed.

One thing that has become clear this year is that it doesn’t matter how well you control disease, if you don’t get any sun in June you don’t get any yield. The coldest, wettest, dullest grainfill period in history, apparently. How we love global warming. And we’ve not had it too bad in the south; reports of harvest just getting started in the west country are not uncommon.

So. On to next year.  Winter oilseed rape has finally been planted and seems to be coming through quickly as a result of plenty of moisture around. This is one crop where I recommend a routine treatment with slug pellets immediately post drilling.

Rape is at its most vulnerable as it’s coming through the ground and I’ve seen whole crops wiped out overnight in the past. Once it is through, the ground monitoring and test baiting (NOT with a pile of pellets under a bag, but a small area spread with the recommended rate) will determine whether further treatments are necessary.

As well as increasing the slug risk in all crops, the moist conditions  have greened up stubbles nicely. I cannot over-stress the importance of the pre – drilling glyphosate mindset, particularly for grassweeds in fields due for winter cereals. You cannot “cultivate out” grassweeds; they simply get buried and come back later fit and healthy. Chasing transplanted grassweeds in a cereal crop is a hiding to nothing. Here endeth the lesson.

See more