South: No respite from the drought or wind

The lack of rain and constant winds are not improving the humour of farmers or agronomists at the moment. We have, however, been quite fortunate in this area compared to some, receiving 25mm of rain on the 6th/7th of May.

But, predictably, on the light land all memories of that have disappeared. Brashy soil types look awful and have already suffered significant and irreversible yield losses. Heavy land is hanging on, but won’t do for much longer without some rain.

Oilseed rape crops seem to be hanging on reasonably well, but canopies are definitely thinner that normal and crops that didn’t receive nitrogen in February and consequently struggled to pick nitrogen up all season are the worst affected.

Spring barley is really struggling with most crops putting flag leaves out at 6-8 inches tall. It will soon be time to apply a second fungicide to these, but it will require some rain to justify this on most of the crop.

Winter barley crops have had a final fungicide on the awns and, again, those that received a large proportion of their nitrogen early look thicker.

Wheat crops are at various stages of ear emergence and early-droughted crops are now flowering. Fortunately, I have not been able to find many Orange Wheat Blossom Midges and apart from one or two hot spots around the Thames I have not had to treat much yet, Vigilance will be required for the next week or so, but hopefully the lack of rainfall will prevent significant egg hatch.

Ear wash decisions will have to be made soon and at the moment I’m  probably only going to treat quality wheats and dirty varieties that need a top-up to the flag leaf fungicide. I see that rain is forecast over the bank holiday weekend and into the following week, lets all hope and prey that this arrives and that the change in month brings a little more optimism and cheer to us all.

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