Spud Watch: Warm May soils lead to rapid crop growth

What a difference a month makes – and if it is dry and relatively sunny, it’s even more pronounced.

There has been a flurry of activity all along the Moray firth and after a later start, all the seed and ware crops are in the ground, and in pretty good order. In fact, the finish of planting has not been particularly late for the North.

With the heat now in the ground – soil temperatures of more than 19C were recorded on several days and this year’s average for May is 3C higher than last year – the crops are emerging fast. Agronomists and sprayer operators have worked hard to keep up with the growth.

See also: How to manage disease in sugar beet crops

Weed control has been pretty good up until now, but it is going to be a challenge for residuals to perform in drying soils.

Growers are getting out irrigators for scab control in early Maris Peer – the only hope for some rain is the chance of a passing thunderstorm this weekend and that will be a bit of a lottery

Early salad crops are now only a week behind last year in terms of ground cover and the first blight sprays are going on them.

Blight risk

The warm overnight temperatures and fog rolling in from the sea has been triggering warnings for the past few days, so it’s not a time for complacency, despite the relatively dry and sunny weather during the day.

Next week is going to be spent getting blight programmes in place and, hopefully, some results from yellow in-field water traps will confirm what the aphid populations are like.

They were predicted to have a late arrival after the cold winter, but it will probably be offset by the warmth of the past month.