West: June is the new May

There is a saying popular among those of us who have reached their half century that 50 is the new 40. This year I would like to add my own saying of a similar nature, but with an agricultural slant, “June is the new May”.  The amount of oilseed rape still flowering is staggering.  There are fields of winter rape in flower alongside flowering spring rape.  For those crops which finished flowering 10 days or so ago perhaps there will be a bonus from the longest daylight hours coinciding with pod fill rather than light being reflected from a canopy of yellow petals.  Whatever happens, harvest is going to be delayed.  Most of our rape will be cut in August.

Winter wheat is likely to be 10 days late based on the time of anthesis and could well clash with the rape harvest. Winter barley looks like it will be more or less on time.

Disease levels remain very low in wheat however Yellow Rust is cropping up in spray misses in susceptible varieties such as Solstice and mildew is obvious in unsprayed areas of varieties such as Claire.  For those of you considering growing Leeds next year, don’t forget to keep on top of the mildew, it is easy to find in untreated trial plots.   Septoria has not moved beyond the base of the crop.  Observations of untreated area of Cassia winter barley revealed high levels of Rhychosporium in the bottom third of the canopy.  Treated areas are very clean.

Weed wise our biggest problems are undoubtedly grass weeds in winter oats.  Year on year the fields we dare grow them in get fewer and fewer.  Spring oats, in contrast, have much lower levels.  What little blackgrass there is in the spring crop has far fewer tillers and much smaller heads than in the winter crop.  Seed return will be much reduced.  The same comments apply to Spring Wheat grown on dirty ground after Winter Rape where Winter Wheat was not established last year.  Spring Wheat looks very good this year, however, it must be said that we managed to create some fantastic seed beds in the cold dry March.  I doubt if we can rely on these conditions year in, year out.

After a slow start Spring Linseed has grown away strongly.  It is very noticeable that broad leaved weed herbicides have delayed flowering by around 4 days.  I cannot count any fewer flower sites on treated areas and there is minimal effect on crop height so final yield should not be unduly compromised.  I suspect the rampant Fat Hen in the misses will do more damage!

I spent a very worthwhile afternoon at the ADAS Rosemaund open day last week.  It was good to get a local slant on varieties and fungicide programmes.  I did not make the long trip to Lincolnshire for the Cereals Event and I have to say that based on previous years experience my technical needs were far better met at the local open day.

Last year the growing season started off full of promise and finished abysmally.  Let’s hope that this year the tables will be turned.

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