West: Hoping for sensible weather for rest of season

It is with some trepidation that I start this report, as each time I do so we seem to suffer a bizarre weather event such as drifting snow after my March report, freezing conditions after the April report and finally 2” of rain the day after my May report, which conveniently flooded a fair proportion of river ground recently sown with either spring barley, spring oilseed rape or maize. As one client said “ that was just downright cruel”. We had an additional 1” of rain the following week just to make sure conditions did not get overly dry !

So I am now looking forward to sensible weather for the rest of the season. I wonder how much rain will drop this week based upon the showery forecast?! In fairness, the two lots of heavy rain did kick a lot of crops into action as it was finally combined with significantly warmer weather. This has given many hope as crops do look a lot better with good plant stands, which in the main hide the holes that are a feature of many crops this year.

Spring oats are doing what they do best and are rushing through the growth stages, with the majority with the flag leaf emerging – most were early tillering just 3 weeks ago! Winter oats look stunning and may turn out to be the star performer. Most of my spring barley crops have leaf two out to flag leaf emerging, with some just starting to poke awns out.

Spring rape now at green bud stage with pollen beetle just starting to come into these crops and these are coming in from the winter rape crops that in many cases are adjacent to the spring equivalent. Overall crops do appear to be quietly catching up, so early wheat crops are probably about a week behind, mid-October wheat’s are about two weeks behind, along with  most crops of rape.

Winter barley crops looking good particularly on the lighter land and also very clean. All T2 applications were completed a couple of weeks ago and as ever there are some tall crops which I am now pleased received a growth regulator earlier on. Some looked to have suffered due to the growth regulation, but have turned themselves around.

The one interesting observation to make is that where I have hybrid barley on the same farms as two-row barley, the hybrid has definitely  picked up significantly better and certainly looks to have more potential. It will be interesting to see how the yields compare and gives food for thought in terms of variety choice where crops are potentially going on heavier land this autumn

Winter oilseed rape crops are turning to a greater or lesser degree, partly down to variety and partly down to the soil type. Cubic on light land has all but finished flowering, whereas some of the heavier land looks to have a good week of flowering in it yet. One crop down the road has only just got to a stage where it looks to be mid-flowering. Hats off to the grower who stuck with it, as it looks fine now.

There are crops which went in on time with plenty of pods, so we’ll hopefully get some presentable yields, but most will, I think, have a mixed bag of good and poor crops with areas that are bare, which will probably taking the gloss off those that are good.

Winter wheat crops have really pulled themselves together. I cannot speak for the Feb/March drilled crops as fortunately I do not have any. We have started the T3 applications on the pre-monsoon crops today, as ears are pretty much out and based upon this week’s forecast we are playing safe.

T2 applications were completed on later crops last week, these are now at various stages of flag leaf fully out to booting, although quite often in the same field. I have stuck with new SDH chemistry on all but the worst fields of wheat for T2, which fortunately do not count for too many acres, on the basis that they will hopefully pull yields up based upon trials work to date.

Disease wise it has to be said that it looks as though we are not in a high septoria year, as most crops are “green and clean” so far. Yellow rust and mildew have not presented any major issues, but I am somewhat vexed about the amount of stem-based browning that is easily found in the majority of crops, regardless of sowing date and for this reason I am using a robust rate of prothioconazole on the ears. This in addition to most crops having a prothio based T1 and T2 !

It seems a shame that we have the abilty to control septoria with new chemistry and that I am looking at clean crops, but having to spend more than I would wish on a T3 that may or may not control ear blight/fusarium as successfully. However, I do not think we have any option but to try our best particularly as crops do look to have potential.


Final thought turns to yield potential of all of the above mentioned crops, which we cannot escape from the fact that they are later than normal. I looked back to 2011 when wheat ear sprays were being applied on the 30 May and rape crops had finished flowering some weeks ago. I also think back to that year when we were looking at thin crops and dry weather, but for our area they turned out to be some of the biggest crops we had seen. So this year we do have thin crops which are late, I think a lot now depends on the weather over the next six weeks or so which is probably stating the obvious! But more and more we do seem to be heavily dependent upon what weather is thrown at us. Sunshine and showers (I emphasize the word showers) would of course be ideal. Keeping my fingers crossed for this nirvana!


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