West: Prioritising jobs in the weeks ahead

I started the last blog with “frustration,” but that was surpassed at the end of that week with “disbelief”  with 6-15in of snow with some experiencing drifts of up to 5-6ft. Crops spent the next two weeks going bluer and bluer due to the bitterly cold east wind and sub zero temperatures.

However, on the plus side the snow thawed slowly and the ground dried very well which has enabled the majority of the spring cropping to have been drilled ( I reckon about 80% is now in with mainly spring oilseed rape left to drill).

Spring barley drilled five weeks ago on the light stuff was just poking through the surface in the middle of last week. The end of the week saw a small miracle with the temperature creeping over double figures for the first time this year with some warm rain at the same time (it was getting a bit too dry on the top).

Crops have responded extremely quickly to the warmer weather with fields greening up rapidly over the weekend and for the first time this year, crops are most definitely growing.

I have spent the last four weeks making sure that product is on farm that we know we are definitely going to use as I have suspicions that bottle necks may occur when we need to really get going. This will at least keep clients going with the initial rush of needing to apply products to various crops.

At the moment I have prioritised winter oilseed rape (that has any leaves) as the first job to apply fungicide, followed by grassweed control in wheat at the end of this week (should be warm enough and strong active weed growth), followed by the T1 for winter barley early next week.

Among this, we need to apply the pre-emergence herbicides to spring barley, spring oats and spring oilseed rape. It is worth noting that by this time last year all the grassweed control in wheat had been done a month ago, T0 was on three weeks ago and some were starting their T1 on their wheat.

Oilseed rape was over chest height with most having applied final split of N to this crop and spring barley was starting to extend. What a difference a year makes!

The winter barley T0 has turned into T1, so I’m glad i didn’t  do anything earlier in terms of doing recs or getting product on farm. T1 products are now all on farm and waiting to go now crops are growing away very quickly and already looking a lot happier.

Most winter barley crops are not showing vast amounts of disease with rhynchosporium almost absent with some signs of net blotch. But I am sure disease pressure will build quickly with the warm wet weather we are experiencing.

Weed burden in autumn-sprayed crops is also not too bad, primarily looking to control wild oats and cleavers (some fields have neither).

I am looking to apply a growth regulator either in with the T1 or soon after depending on temperatures and how many products we can put in the tank at once. Nitrogen has been split three ways rather than twice so the final split will probably go on end of this week/beginning of next.

Winter oilseed rape has seen a few more crops gave up the ghost due to a combined assault of weather and pigeons. These will be replaced by spring osr. Pigeons have just continued to hammer crops across the whole county even where there has been a determined effort.

Crops are visibly reaching for the sky over the last 3-4 days and where we do have plenty of leaf, we have made a start at getting the long overdue fungicides on the crop (some started last week with many more going this week). 

Moving to winter wheat, I stupidly said in the last blog that we were working on the premise that Othello/Atlantis and Broadway Star would be going on before the end of April. It was another false hope, along with the correct prediction about “will the T0 turn into a T1”.

So all of the above mentioned grass weed products will be applied end of this week (not quite the end of April), I have often said that the blackgrass we have is of the “girly nature”, but I do think that meso products are going to be sorely tested with even our easy stuff this time around. Some of the blackgrass is the wrong end of well tillered (for this reason we are not adding any fungicide in these situations , which fortunately are few and far between).

Wheat that was drilled before the first monsoon of the autumn is generally at the end of tillering/GS 30 and with no hope of getting a T0 followed by brome control followed by a T1, we have taken the decision to skip the T0 get the grassweed control on and then seven days later go in with new SDHI chemistry. Later drilled crops we will treat as normal with standard azole chemistry.

Glad I am an optimist (most of the time) as it has taken yet another whole month for the warm growing weather to finally arrive, looking on the bright side it most definitely can only get better from now on, as we all thoroughly deserve a let up on what has been thrown at us in the last 12 months!

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