South: Lowest disease year in my memory

Normally this time of year the topic of my conversations tend to move towards where I’m going on holiday, what the chances are of England winning the Test Series and, eventually, what we are planning for next year’s cropping.

I’ve only just finished sorting out 2013’s croppings. The massive increase in spring-drilled cereals and late-drilled spring break crops mean that I’m still rushing about like the proverbial B.A.F. and the annual two-hour farm office meeting in the (whatever local) Arms will have to be postponed for the next few weeks or so.

Having said that, this is a very forgiving time of year. I’ve lost count of the number of times the phrase “I would NEVER have believed that crop would now look like this…..” has been repeated recently. I also can’t remember a year where crops have looked so clean disease-wise, where a significant proportion of the winter wheat will end up having only two fungicide applications. I guess we can thank global warming for giving us the coldest spring in 50 years.

One of the most fascinating, but mentally demanding aspects of this job is how every year brings different challenges. Late drilled spring crops have emerged with unprecedented levels of broad-leaved-weeds. I can only think that it is because of the sequence of record-breaking weather conditions that dormancy has been broken on a massive seed bank. Why do I have hemp nettle covering the ground in fields where I’ve never seen it before? And not just one field, but everywhere? When I’m about 90 I might know the answer, but by that time we’ll probably be in another ice age….

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