This week has seen blue sea and blue sky to match. Cereals, oilseed rape and spring crops are certainly all enjoying the ideal growing conditions currently being experienced here in the South. There are some excellent control strips (spray misses) which show just how well spring herbicides have worked this season. Without them, crops would have been swamped by brome or blackgrass, rendering them uneconomic to harvest given the severity displayed in some of these unintended trials.
On the whole, disease control has been excellent and where spray intervals have been kept tight with T1 programmes based around either the established SDHI boscalid, or the newer SDHI penthiopyrad with a suitable partner product, I am seeing very clean crops. If dose or active ingredient have been compromised then septoria and rust will have taken advantage. Many winter oilseed rape crops have now received a second flowering fungicide spray in what is clearly turning out to be a high disease pressure year.
The last round of tissue sampling pre-T2 is helping to highlight any potential hidden nutritional hunger in visually healthy crops. The usual suspects are in order of frequency; magnesium, suslphur, zinc and lastly boron. Interestingly for livestock farmers, sodium levels are consistently low too.
Spring peas and beans are beginning to show good levels of nodulation. Some crops are being hit hard by pea and bean weevil, making a suitable insecticide such as alpha-cypermethrin essential, but conversely on some sites I have seen non-existent damage.
Soil conditions have been perfect for examining the effect of a wet winter on soil structure. Current weather is now just beginning to cause these damaged soils to rapidly dry out, highlighting the need to improve organic matter levels. Thankfully shallow rooted crops – a hangover from the wet winter – have so far not been challenged due to the regular “top ups” of rain we have so far experienced south of the Thames. We still have a way to go both for disease control and moisture, but bring on the Sun!