West: Estimating how bad it is

By David Morris

A straw poll of local farms indicates that winter wheat area in 2013 could be 50% that of 2012. But it’s worse than that – as the 2013 area includes a substantial acreage of wheat drilled extremely late, which is now struggling to catch up. The same poll indicates that the ‘surviving’ winter rape acreage is also about 50% of last year’s – and again these crops have limited yield potential.

Despite attempts to encourage struggling winter oilseed rape crops to rekindle active growth, many have now thrown in the towel and have re-drilled, or have increased fallow areas. The financial costs and risks of all this have been considerable.

On a positive note, a spell of warm weather has now allowed spring drilling to be completed. Some April cereal drillings are emerging quicker and with more vigour than those drilled over 8 weeks earlier. The best establishments are where seed has been drilled into warm, friable soil. This has been hard for some to achieve with soils in poor condition.

Winter cereal grass weed treatments are now being completed, and the crucial T1 timing looms. Disease levels are currently low, but as we know from last year, this can soon change and robust treatments are planned.

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