South: Wetness causes wheat rooting and lodging concerns

The wettest January in recent memory on top of a back-end with so few sunshine hours that the ground never had a chance to dry out when it wasn’t raining certainly means we have more than enough water about. Any water logging continues to be localised, though. And most of our crops are in a good place and needing no early attention. So we’re not overly worried – yet.

Having said that, with Atlantic storms continuing to barrel in and so little decent winter weather on the forecasting horizon, we are gearing ourselves up for a busier-than-normal early spring.

There’s plenty of disease bubbling-up on our wheats, especially the earlier-sown crops. We simply haven’t had enough cold to get rid of heavily-infected lower leaves. And, unless something changes dramatically in the next few weeks, it looks like an early curative, as well as protectant, T0 start to our disease management programme will be essential.

Because we never want to bring our T0s forward to leave a gap of much more than three weeks before our T1s, this won’t be until late March. So we may well need a carefully targeted pre-T0 for varieties currently carrying worrying levels of active yellow rust, in particular.

Despite the growthy early winter, wheat rooting will definitely have been compromised by the persistent wetness. Combined with generally good tillering, this sounds clear root lodging warning bells. In addition to adding Nutriphyte-PGA to most of our early sprays, we’re planning to address this with a more robust low temperature-active PGR than normal at T0.

Thankfully – with the ground as wet as it is – none of our wheats will need any nitrogen for at least a month. Mineralisation over the very mild winter appears to have been sufficient to hold any yellowing firmly at bay.

Thankfully too, while most of our winter rape is well-rooted and grown, nothing is stupidly forward. Despite the lack of winter, late propyzamide seems to have done a good job on the blackgrass. But thistle control looks like being a particular headache now we’re not allowed to use Galera (clopyralid + picloram) before March 1. As it has to be applied before flower buds are visible, we could well find ourselves with little more than a 24 hour spray window in many cases.

Having delayed our autumn disease spray until well into November – courtesy of strong phoma resistance in our varieties – and based it on prothioconazole, we’ve yet to see any significant light leaf spot. So an early stem extension spray should keep on top of things nicely here.

Noticeable by their absence to date, some big flocks of pigeons have been getting into rape in the past week. Arguably, this may be no bad thing for some crops. Unfortunately, though, the blighters never seem to know when to stop. Nor do they have the decency to focus their attention on our larger canopies.

NOVEMBER
3

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