West: Grab a tank-load while you can

Just getting to the point where I wish I had not wished for rain.

We have had something like 2in over the last 3 weeks (probably more where heavy storms have hit). Drains are running and ditches are flowing, travelling conditions are wet but due to the dry autumn and winter the tramlines are well set with no ruts so water is not collecting. Spraying conditions are far from ideal with either high winds or showers interspersed with the odd opportunity to get into the crops.

Since temperatures soared to the giddy heights of 21 deg C 3 weeks ago, we’ve seen things plummet to 8-10 deg by day and 0-3 deg by night. (I’ve even reluctantly had to put the heating back on due to complaints from the troops!)

Winter oats are finally taking off and T1 applications are going on this week – hopefully!

The mystery of stunted winter barley crops has been identified as Rhizoctonia solani (or Barley Stunt). Most of the crops affected are on lighter soil types and were early sown. It also seems to be related to those crops where germination was slow and protracted, made worse by the mild conditions in October and November.

Most plants have either leaf one or leaf two emerging, while forward crops were knocked over by snow three weeks ago and continued heavy storms. Of course, it’s made that much worse on headlands where nitrogen applications have overlapped. T1 sprays look to have sorted out any lingering mildew, probably also helped by the cold nights.

The majority of oilseed rape crops are at early to mid flower and fortunately pollen beetle did not come to anything although numbers were building in the week when day time temperatures were hitting 20deg. However since then the cold weather has stopped them flying and there are none to be found.

We have started applying sclerotinia sprays in amongst the wheat T1 applications following crops at our site in the west midlands showing germination and petals starting to stick. That said, soil temperatures are not currently high enough to give a rapid explosion so we’re not panicking yet, particularly with the current lousy forecast.

Most forward crops of winter wheat have leaf two emerging and the majority of crops have leaf three one-third out. We started T1 applications at the beginning of last week (good days on Sunday and Monday ) with clients snatching odd tank-loads as and when the weather will let them .

The feeling is that T1 is going to be a protracted affair and we’re now very glad that all crops had a T0. Yellow rust has not been a problem to date and we’re ensuring that this remains the case by putting either prothioconazole and fluoxastrobin on the second wheats or azoxystrobin and boscalid/epoxiconazole on the first crops.

Some wheat has been hit quite hard where products have been used for brome control, this is probably down to the big fluctuation in temperatures when products were applied and the dry weather at the time. However it has to be said that we are getting very good results where pyroxsulam and florasulam have been applied, not only on the brome and wild oats but also on ryegrass and broadleaved weeds.

I would now like it to stop raining until at least T2 has been completed please. (No doubt I will regret this request as well!)

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