South: Spring barley looking superb

The largely dry and warm weather recently has really allowed crops to put on some much needed growth and it is fair to say that crop potential, albeit starting from a very low base, looks much better than it did eight weeks ago.

Spring barley crops look superb and are on the whole clean from tip to toe. Some are over thick and despite the use of quite a lot of late season growth regulation and I fear lodging could be an issue in places.

Wheat crops also look very well and I have not seen any yellow rust worthy of comment during the whole season and septoria is also largely confined to leaf four and below in the canopy. All crops received a timely ear wash applied before flowering, so hopefully fusarium will not be an issue either.

Orange wheat blossom midges have to date failed to materialise in any numbers and only late drilled and spring crops are now at risk.

Spring beans are currently being treated for bruchid beetle; temperatures and pod development have not got to the correct stage for treatment, but are forecast to this week. If black bean aphids are also present add pirimicarb to the mix; its vapour action will do a much better job than a pyrethroid insecticide on this pest.

Winter rape crops, while making a remarkable comeback from the dead, are going to cause big headaches at desiccation and harvest time. Some are still flowering madly, and I have got spring and winter crops of rape on the same farm both in full flower! I suspect some of these winter crops will have been in the ground for over twelve months before the combine eventually puts them out of their and our misery!

Finally on the subject of spring rape herbicides, driving round the country I have seen quite a few crops that have obviously been treated with clomazone pre-emergence. The worst affected crops turned white from field corner to field corner and remained that way for long periods of time.

With no chlorophyll in the leaf and a very short growing season, this will surely have had a major impact on yield and these crops certainly look very backward now. I avoided this active on spring rape, feeling it was potentially too phytotoxic, and on this year’s observations I am very glad I did!

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