South: Prospects brighten despite delays

A long, cold, late spring was about the last thing our winter oilseed rape needed this season. So it’s no surprise most is only just coming into full flower – a good month later than usual.

All but our earliest crops have a long way to go and I really can’t see most of them being harvested until August, with a big spread of maturity within many. This will make careful harvest management essential, pod shatter resistant varieties especially valuable, and a strong case for including a pod-stick with the pre-harvest glyphosate.

Despite the continued lack of both temperature and sunshine, I’m pleasantly surprised how well our OSR has been setting pods. Fingers-crossed this continues. Equally, that flowering isn’t cut short by a sudden shift to hot, dry weather.

Later than normal stem extension sprays based on prothioconazole + tebuconazole (Kestrel) have given us a head start in combatting sclerotinia. So it looks like a single mid-flowering spray will do the job in most cases. Unless crops are patchy and flowering extends beyond the maximum of three weeks from the last spray, that is.

Pollen beetle hasn’t been much of a problem either, with none of our OSR needing an overspray. However, with seed weevils not hard to find, we’ll be including an insecticide in the mid-flowering sprays for our later crops.

Recent conditions may not have been ideal for the OSR, but they’ve been just what our wheats needed to bulk-up and develop. Even the September drillings are still 7-10 days behind where they’d normally be. But they’re catching-up nicely and looking full of promise.

Well-timed T1 sprays have kept septoria securely at bay and with T2s currently going on as flag leaves emerge – after a gap of little more than three weeks – we’re confident of staying well on top of any disease problems.

To manage septoria in the face of triazole activity concerns we employed multi-site protectants widely at T1 and are basing our T2s strongly on SDHIs. Their physiological benefits will also be particularly valuable in supporting the increased contribution of lower leaves to yield this season.

Providing the threat from septoria – and any yellow rust that may appear – remains low, it doesn’t look like we’ll need to increase triazole rates at T2.

Magnesium deficiencies are becoming apparent both to the eye and through tissue testing. So our T2s will include foliar Mg wherever it’s needed. We’ll also be giving our thinner, later crops a herbicide top-up to tackle black bindweed and other late germinating broad-leaved weeds.

Despite the very slow start, things are also looking good for our spring barleys. A little behind, they are just getting their T1s to counter the ever-present rhynchosporium threat. But otherwise they’re very clean and tidy.  It looks to me like we could be harvesting them ahead of most of our winter rape, which will be very valuable for the early rape drillings we’re after achieving where possible.

All we need now is some decent summer sunshine. Preferably with just the right amount of ‘soft refreshing’ (rain).

 

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