West: Last report tempted fate!

Looks as though the last sentence of my previous report did tempt fate! October has been very wet and we have had nearly 6” of rain, although some will have had more, some slightly less and ironically this is wetter than last October. Someone said to me in September that October was going to be dry and that we would have snow at the beginning of November. I am also being told that we are in for a very cold winter, but I think it is safer to just stick your finger in the air and make your own forecast.

Despite the lousy conditions, most have managed to get all stubbles sown along with a percentage of crops in after maize, however, there is still quite a lot of maize still to cut. Fodder beet harvest has started with some wheat in after this crop as well. It would be very handy having a dry spell now so we can finish drilling.

Soil conditions have been remarkably good, with the ground in the main soaking up the rain, helped by sunny windy conditions most weeks. This has allowed most to carry on spraying pre- and post-emergence herbicides. It has to be said that we are in a far better place than we were this time last year, albeit that we could do with some frosts to slow crop growth down and a couple of dry weeks to finish off autumn spraying. Flufenacet products have delivered the most impressive crop scorch that I have seen for many years due to a combination of rapid growth and wet soils.

Winter barley is all drilled, sprayed and up. September sown crops on light land have 2-3 tillers and are very thick and lush. Mildew has taken hold on many of these crops in the last 10 days, resulting in having to apply an autumn fungicide of either proquinazid OR cyprodinil depending on either being in stock. We are adding manganese and rightly or wrongly cypermethrin to Deter (clothianidin) dressed crops. Non Deter-dressed crops are on their second application of cypermethrin due to the high BYDV risk this autumn. October sown crops are fine at the moment, although most crops have yellow areas due to water logging, primarily on headlands. Slugs have been noticeably absent, with very few crops requiring slug pellets – heavy land crops and just small areas of patch applications. Crops range from 4-5 true leaves to three tillers

Winter oilseed rape crops are too thick and too tall, but September sown crops are about right! I do now have crops that are up to the top of my wellies, so much more satisfying than last year! Phoma has started to take a hold, with crops approaching 15%+ phoma. This has accelerated in the last 10 days or so, previous to this it was quietly sitting at around 5%. Spraying started the week before last where clients were up to date with cereal spraying.

Weed control has been good primarily due to crops taking off so quickly and covering the ground. I would like to start applying bifenox, but i think it is far too warm. This also applies to carbetamide and propyzamide. I think we are going to have to wait for some hard frosts to open the canopy up before we start with this job. I would think that 60% of the rape has now had a phoma spray.

Pretty much all that is left to drill is winter wheat after maize and fodder beet and a few acres after spuds, which probably totals 800acres (324ha), which is about 7% of my wheat area. The majority of the wheat has been sprayed with flufenacet products, which due to plenty of moisture have worked well. Blackgrass has been caught by the pre-ems, with none with more than 2 leaves, which are bleached. If conditions allow, we will be looking to apply Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) with a residual in two weeks time – six weeks after the pre-emergence application.

Slug issues have been mainly restricted to wheat after rape, with few fields or patches requiring more than one application of pellets. We have been very pleased with ferric phosphate pellets, which seem to do the job. I think the main reason for few issues with slugs has been the down to very good seed-beds and most having been rolled.

Mildew is evident, but not intending to do anything with this. Also, I am not intending to treat Deter treated crops with cypermethrin, although if the promised cold winter does not happen by the end of this month, I may be tempted. What is very noticeable is the comparative lack of vigour where seed stocks from last year have been used, which were all tested for germination. Where new and old seed has been used on the same blocks of land you would think they were drilled 7-10 days apart! Soils are obviously still warm as crops are still emerging within 10-14 days of drilling.

All in all it has been a very good autumn session. As mentioned, three weeks of dry now would be gratefully accepted, along with some frosts to slow crop growth down and allow us to wrap up autumn spraying. As I tap away it is pouring down again along with high winds, more so than the predicted Armageddon at the beginning of last week, which we escaped thankfully.

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