West: Peverse weather extremes and seagulls

I feel as though I have spent the year either wishing for the rain to stop OR just wanting a little bit to moisten up seed-beds. Like most of the country we had a nice little drop 10 days ago (5-7mm), which was just perfect in helping out with some rape and wheat seed-beds that were just a tad too dry.

However, on Sunday afternoon (23 September) to Monday afternoon (24 September) the heavens opened and we had somewhere in the region of 70mm! Followed by another 20mm over the next two days, followed by another 10-15mm up to the end of play yesterday. (I can hear the screams of anguish already from those poor souls who have probably had even more than this!)

How perverse can the weather be? Just twelve months ago I was sending pictures in of desert like conditions in Shropshire, with fields and fields of rape and wheat that were still showing no signs of delivering a crop. Now we have fields that still have pools of water in them to a greater or lesser degree, along with seagulls!

As a consequence of the conditions very little if any fieldwork has been carried out in the last week. I am holding on to the fact that it is only the 1st of October as I write this and remaining optimistic for a dry and warm month (6-8 weeks would be even better still!)

After an extremely difficult harvest from beginning to end along with somewhat disappointing yields, albeit not disastrous, dry weather arrived eventually and the bulk of crops were cut by early September. There are odd pockets of wheat still to cut, although not on any of my clients’ farms.

As yet, there is virtually no winter barley drilled nor winter oats .

Of the planned 5000ac of winter oilseed rape around 4500ac has been drilled, with the majority either by auto casting off the back of a cultivator or drilled behind a cultivator. Approximately 150ac have been ploughed and drilled on light land.

Seed-beds have in the main been very good, BUT due to the protracted drilling window because of the late harvest, I now have rape that is anywhere from cotyledon to 6 true leaf (another reason for wanting a mild dry month!).

There are no major issues with slugs at the moment – maybe they were drowned in last week’s deluge! As yet, there are no issues with phoma and in the main volunteers are not a major issue, which will hopefully mean we can combine a phoma spray with a graminicide.

First wheat drilling was progressing well up until the heavy rain, with about 80% after rape drilled and rolled. The most forward crops are at two leaf and warm soils have meant that all crops drilled so far have chitted prior to the rain and are continuing to grow despite the wet soils. Again, how perverse conditions can be when this time last year we were concerned about blue mould!

As with the rape, the slug issue has not been bad as yet. I think this is due mainly to the fact that seed-beds up until now have been very good and crops are growing quickly – long may it continue this way! Seed rates have been kept low due to small seed, with TGW anywhere from 33 to 48 on supplied seed. Hopefully the wet week will enable seed suppliers to catch up and get remaining seed on farm.

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