South: Oilseed rape crops washed out

For most we have now had some much welcome rain, but there are places where there was too much in too shorter time (93mm in 6-7 hrs). This has resulted in some oilseed rape being partly washed out. It’s still in the fields, but there’s a lot of visible roots and the plants are trying to stand up again, so it looks like most will survive.

Oilseed rape crops have mostly established well where moisture has been retained in soil. This means that direct drilled and min-tilled crops have come up far better than those that were ploughed. Many crops seemed to lack early vigour, possibly a result of the small seed size that was widely reported at harvest, but now are finally growing away with the earliest drilled crops at 5 or more leaves, especially on the more fertile sites.

The majority of cereal volunteers and grassweeds have now been taken out with graminicides, but the rain last week is likely to bring on the next flush of blackgrass and brome. Slugs and flee beetle attacks have been highly variable so far. Some crops are showing little sign of damage, whereas as others have needed a second dose of slug pellets and a few have required a second insecticide.

The next challenge will be to try and collect any surviving flee beetles for sending to Rothamstead for resistance testing. Hopefully as the nights start to get cooler and as crops get larger the number of flee beetles will drop down and therefore reduce the risk that they pose.

Wheat and barley drilling has only just started here and this means that many fields have now had two hits of glyphosate to reduce grassweed numbers, and many will hopefully be able to have another before drilling. Where blackgrass and brome are issues the pre-emergence sprays will be as important as ever. How they are applied can have a huge influence on how well they work, unfortunately low water rates and high forward speeds tend to not give the best results, but does cover the acres.

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