West: Easy to forget it’s July

Crops look better after welcome rainfall. Spring wheats and barleys look lush, and yields now look promising, despite their poor start. Spring beans are forming pods and bruchid beetles may increase if temperatures rise. The reduced area of winter rape looks as if it will carry on flowering forever, and even some spring rape crops have started to romp away.

However, it is easy to forget that this is now July and not May. The longest day has passed, and crop growth is usually downhill from here. No-one is sure as to how the spring break crops will turn out, after such an unusual weather pattern, other than many will be late to harvest.

Autumn sown winter wheats are now starting to flower and most have received ear wash fungicide treatments – mainly based on prothioconazole. Yellow rust has been found in some wheat crops – especially where fungicide timing or rates have not been ideal – requiring robust eradicant mixes.  Barleys have been easier to keep clean.

Linseed is also starting to flower. Recent fungicide treatments will also hopefully aid standing power, as the best crops look promising.

Attention is at last turning towards the new cropping season. Winter rape acreage could be much reduced – mostly because of late harvest, but maybe also a reaction to all the wasted efforts of last year.

Winter wheat acreages should be higher, but the on-going issues of blackgrass control refuse to go away. There are reports of catastrophic levels of blackgrass remaining after chemical treatments, and it appears that some wheat fields have been foraged.

Cultural methods such as crop rotation will be crucial to reduce the reliance on chemistry, which alone can’t be expected to cope with the challenge.

Maybe we will see a few blue fields again in 2014?


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