Recently many growers in the region have been taunted with the occasional, localised shower, but much of East Anglia remains parched. For some crops, particularly on light land or later drillings after roots the yield potential has slipped with every dry day.
On the heavier land, despite the drought, crops have accessed moisture, but in many cases the applied nitrogen has not been made available leading to thin, pale crops with uneven growth. However, there are some exceptional crops, these are usually early September-drilled, or where fertility is high e.g. due to muck. Many sugar beet crops are bearing up well, although on lighter soils these will soon need significant rain to support the top growth.
This year any cropped areas that are suffering due to poor soil structure or drainage can be easily identified and ear marked for remedial attention. Damage to soil structure is particularly apparent after sugar beet; yield penalties from damaged soil structure and late drillings that may have been glossed over in recent years have become very apparent this season.
In wheat, septoria pressure remains low, whilst on susceptible varieties yellow rust and mildew remain the dominant diseases. On the better crops planned T2 fungicide sprays (full flag leaf) using the new SDHI chemistry are popular. Whilst on poorer crops growers and agronomists are juggling continued disease protection with a realistic spend according to disease susceptibility and crop potential. On the large area of yellow rust susceptible varieties, fungicide timing remains crucial and avoid stretching the spray interval beyond three weeks.
As forward wheats are at mid-booting it is time to consider orange blossom midge. Already midges have been caught in traps; pupation has been triggered by warm soil temperatures despite the drought. Stressed crops are racing through the susceptible growth stages from boot splitting to flowering and therefore some may escape the main flush of midge. But, remain vigilant and be ready to protect susceptible crops as required.
Bean crops are very short and flowering (that will not please the combine driver!). Generally they are free of disease, but reports of chocolate spot are occurring where showers or frost damage have occurred. Monitor crops and make sure they are protected before or at the first signs of disease.