West: Cold conditions slow maize crop emergence

Since last writing, we have seen a return to more changeable weather. Unfortunately this has been combined with a very persistent, cold wind. This is most definitely not helping the emerging maize crops.

The rain when it came was a huge relief, as many spring crops were definitely beginning to suffer from a lack of water. On the down side it will re-ignite septoria pressure in the wheat crops. On the whole most wheat crops have three clean leaves, however, all but the later drilled crops have a significant proportion of leaf four infected. The most forward crops are now at GS59 and will soon be receiving their earwash. A dry middle fortnight in June would now be most welcome in helping to keep the fusarium pressure low and helping to keep grain quality good.

The oilseed rape crops have now finished flowering and had their last applications of nitrogen and Sclerotinia fungicides, so it is basically all over bar the waiting for harvest now. On the whole canopy size is looking good and pod set has been better than usual, with very few missing pod sites. A bit of warmth and light intensity would now definitely help the rape crop to fulfil its potential. With the price where it is at the moment we certainly need the crop to yield well this year.

The winter barley crop is a bit variable. The better looking crops received their nitrogen applications on time and are looking very promising at the moment. There are, however, some thinner looking crops about and the common factor in all of them is delayed nitrogen applications in March and early April. These crops have shed tillers and whilst they will not be disastrous, they certainly are not going to perform as well as they might have done.

The spring barley crop is also a bit variable, with the determining factors here being later drilling and/or poor quality, cloddy seed-beds. This caused problems in April when it was very dry for three weeks.

The maize crop has emerged well this year, but is being slow to get away due to the cold winds. Unfortunately the same thing cannot be said of the weed in the crop, which is romping away. This will make the timing of post-emergence herbicides even more important than usual. Crops will have to be sprayed even if they are looking a bit stressed, as leaving the weed in place will be even more damaging to prospects.

With the Cereals event just around the corner, I am looking forward to my annual pilgrimage. It is always a good opportunity to meet up with old friends, exchange views and to find out what’s new in the industry. I’m hoping to find some candidate varieties suitable for the Southwest growing conditions.

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