Our Crop Watch agronomists believe there will be some important decisions to be made this month in order to prevent a lasting legacy in what has been a largely forgettable harvest for most farmers.
AICC agronomist Patrick Stephenson in Yorkshire believes cultivation choice will be key in correcting the problems that will have arisen after such a poor year.
However, he concedes the effects are likely to be seen in years to come, with the soil structure taking the major brunt of this year’s wet weather.
“The plough is certainly one of the key implements to try and regain some soil structure, but this is often only cosmetic. The key ingredient is air – somehow this has to be introduced to try and encourage the soil fauna to self-correct,” said Mr Stephenson.
“I fear despite our best efforts this season will be with us for a long while yet,” he added.
Poor grain quality has plagued this year’s cereal samples and it is no different for seed stocks. AICC agronomist Stephen Harrison in Avon believes growers should take this into account when drilling this year’s crop.
“Thousand-seed weights are low this season, so pay special attention to seed weight calculations. Do not be tempted to drill home-saved seed without treatment – the risk of total failure due to fusarium is too high,” he explained.
The potato harvest is well under way, but as has been the case for most crops, it doesn’t look as if it’s going to be a bumper season, with a number of problems being extenuated by the wet weather, not only in the North but across the country.
“Growth cracks are also a problem where soils have been waterlogged at some stage and while tuber numbers are generally good, the size is likely to be limited, ” says John Sarup of Spud Agronomy.
Mr Sarup also said it was crucial to get storage right, urging farmers to take representative sample digs from each field and carry out a simple analysis of yield and quality to aid this process.