South: Slug activity on the increase

Harvest is finally drawing to a close with the last few fields being cut. Overall results have been better than hoped for. Heavy, moisture-retentive land has seen near record yields of oilseed rape and wheat. Rape on some farms has averaged as high as 5.5t/ha and first wheat as high as 12t/ha average.

Rape yields held up remarkably well on light land, but unfortunately wheat crops on brash or gravel proved disappointing with yields often down at about 6.5t/ha. Bushel weights across the board have been very good and as high as 86kg/hl on feed wheats.

Rape drilling is going well with 75% of the crop drilled so far. Initially slug activity looked low, but recent rains have increased activity. I have pelleted most crops drilled so far and the remainder will receive a dose of metaldehyde in the next few days.

Remember that the total dose of metaldehyde that can be applied before the 31 December is only 210g/ha. If you are using a 3% pellet this amounts to only 7kg product/ha or a single dose. I have been using a good quality 1.5% pellet that performs equally well, at 3.5kg/ha it gives 50 baiting points/sqm and could be used up to four times at this rate before reaching the 210g limit.

Most rape crops will receive a pre- or early post-emergence herbicide for broadleaved weed control. This is normally an easy decision based around metazachlor with quinmerac added for poppy and cleaver control, but problems caused by the reduced availability and late delivery of some metazachlor-based products have caused more than a few headaches, especially as some of the alternatives have to be applied pre-emergence only.

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