South: OSR crop area down at expense of winter barley


The past week in the South provided glorious sunshine and allowed cereal drilling to really begin in earnest, with seed being drilled into generally excellent seed-beds, with plenty of moisture. An advantage of the recent rain which caused a catchy end to harvest has been to provide the opportunity for a good chit of grassweeds prior to drilling.

Pre-emergence herbicides now being applied are being based around a combination of flufenacet, flurtamone, diflufenican and prosulfocarb. In addition, glyphosate is being added to the pre-emergence spray to take out any large transplanted grass and cereal volunteers where necessary.

The oilseed rape area in our region is greatly reduced this year and is being replaced, to a large extent, with winter barley. Where rape has been retained, crops are now growing well, with many at the four true leaf stage and I am currently monitoring crops for the first signs of phoma. Some areas are now seeing much higher levels of cabbage stem flea beetle attack, with many requiring multiple treatments of insecticide to prevent the risks posed by this difficult to control pest and the serious ongoing damage caused throughout the pest’s lifecycle.

Cover crops this year seem to be more variable and as yet, are not providing the same levels of biomass produced in recent years. Available nutrition appears to be a factor for consideration, perhaps no surprise following an excellent harvest where very little residual nitrogen has been left for the cover crop to mop up. This demonstrates that cover crops really must be shown the same attention to detail as any other crop if a grower wants to extract the full benefits.

My Downland customers will welcome the rain returning this week as long as it knows when to stop, but for those on the heavier soils, care will need to be taken not to cause damage to soil structure in fields where forage maize crops are about to be carted off. Contractors have ever larger kit, so it’s worth keeping an eye on traffic movements and tyre pressures? Hopefully fine weather will return as predicted and allow completion of drilling in fairly ideal conditions across the region.

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