South: Oilseed rape desiccation headaches

The sun is out and the temperatures have shot up over the last week (1- 7 July). This has driven all the crops on and most of the wheat is grain filling, with the exception being the late drilled crops that are mostly flowering. Where there is some soil depth there is moisture to keep feeding crops, but on the thinnest brash soils some crops are showing signs of drought stress already. A night’s light, steady rain a week until harvest would be beneficial.

Winter barley is turning quickly now, with most crops having ears part or fully dropped down.  It’s now a case of waiting a few weeks to allow them to finish senescing. It will be interesting to see how much is cut in July, a lot is likely to be done at the start of August.

Maize crops have romped on in the hot weather too. Being a late spring means few made knee high by the start of July, but many have got there now (7th July). Weed control is now done and due to the moisture earlier on the pre-ems have worked well, which has reduced the pressure on any post-em applications.

The biggest headache at the moment is the timing of oilseed rape desiccation.  Where fields are even in growth stage (there are a few like that!) then there aren’t any issues. Treat with glyphosate and pod sealant when seeds are turning in the centre of the main raceme.

Things are bit different where we have uneven fields that can’t be easily split up for spraying.  There is a strong case for treating the whole field with a pod sealant (e.g. Companion Gold) 7-10 days before the forward parts of the field are ready to be desiccated and then desiccate and pod seal the whole field as the later areas become fit for desiccation. This does create an extra pass and expense, but if it avoids having unripe grains in the sample at harvest it should be worth doing, where needed.

On a different note I was asked to be one of the judges for the ‘Best farmed farm’ competition for the Basingstoke and District Agricultural Society last month. Myself and one other were judging the medium size category. It was great to see five farms managed differently for different reasons, but aiming for similar goals. Environmental improvement was high on the agenda, some ELS/HLS funded, some not, but profit being the key driver. Sadly George and myself could only put forward one winner, so much ‘debate’ was had before we made our decision. Congratulations to all who entered, you are a credit to the industry!

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