West: Cold weather reduces disease levels

Mother nature has stopped cereal crops in their tracks, with the last fortnights cold weather slowed down or stopped growth. Crops that looked as though they would be ready for a T0 are now looking like they won’t need anything for another few days. The cold weather has reduced disease levels, although if mild and damp weather returns, we will need to be in very quickly to prevent the septoria getting hold.

The fertiliser that has been applied hasn’t greened the crops up, but as soon as warm weather returns I expect them to go through their growth stages rapidly. Where they didn’t receive any autumn herbicide treatment some grassweeds are beginning to get hold, so these must be a priority, but again the cold conditions will not give a reliable result, so wait for conditions to warm up.

Some oilseed rape has suffered late pigeon damage, but is now growing away. The crops that did not suffer are now close to stem extension, so a fertiliser application will be required. The new growth is clean due to the cold weather, but start planning the fungicide and trace element mix for when it warms up.

As we get close to April many growers will be starting to think about maize drilling, but with soil temperatures of only 5C at the moment, don’t rush. Maize doesn’t want to be drilled until soil temperature is 8-10C and rising. The first priority will be to take a spade and dig some holes where you think there may be compaction. If there is, then this will need to be rectified. Wait for ground conditions to dry so a subsoiler will actually correct the problem. Going too early will be a purely cosmetic operation.

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