Spud Special: Cold spring slows down crop emergence

The Scottish spring, reliable as ever, has managed to provide the usual four seasons in one day for the best part of a month now. It’s not helping the crops that have been planted to emerge in any great hurry.

The earliest plantings in March took 7-8 weeks and the April plantings are struggling to make an appearance after 4-5 weeks. Soil temperatures have rarely been above 10C, so there may be more effects from soil borne rhizoctonia seen in the coming weeks.

The crop covers have helped to mitigate some of the effects of a cold spring – black plastic won the day with the fastest emergence, fleece was next and swede netting also helped and proved more robust in some of the strong gales we’ve had. It also prevented some serious erosion of ridges on the lighter soils.

Planting continues apace and many growers will be finished by this weekend, with later areas in Aberdeenshire and also parts of the east coast that have had higher than average rainfall on heavier soils needing longer to complete the job.

Now growers will be turning to weed control. Timely application is the key and its best to go early rather than have to do a fire brigade job at the last minute and potentially check crops that are just emerging. Hopefully the weather will cooperate – wet and windy days are not welcome when growers are trying to juggle the priorities for a range of crops.

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