West: Rain brings relief to crops

Over the last 10 days, we have had approximately 25-40mm of rain across the whole region, which has been enough to get all crops chitting. However, it has by no means had any major effect on the big soil-moisture deficit in this area.


The rain has arrived too late for some oilseed rape crops and I think somewhere in the region of 300-500 acres of rape has been ripped up – not all mine – in the area and either replaced with a second or third wheat or winter oats.


I have quite a few acres of rape that is still only at cotyledon to 2-3 true leaves which we are leaving to see if they make it through to the spring. With soil temperatures still at 12C, crops are growing quickly, especially where they have either poultry litter or sludge cake underneath them.


Winter barley crops are at anywhere from chitting to growth stage 22.  Florentine had got quite severe mildew, but a frost two weeks ago has sorted this out. However, this will need an eye keeping on it if conditions stay mild.


My one crop of Maris Otter is only at three true leaves and has mildew on leaf one, which we will treat with Kayak (cyprodinil) in the next 10 days if it stays mild. All approximately 50% have already been sprayed and hopefully all will be done by the end of the coming week


Winter oilseed rape crops are at cotyledon to 8-10 true leaves, depending on moisture levels since drilling. Crops with early moisture could probably do with some cold weather sooner or later. But on balance, I am hoping it stays mild for another two to three weeks to let the late emerging crops get to four true leaves before winter sets in.


Cabbage stem flea beetle larvae can be found in some plants. We have been applying phoma sprays over the last two weeks in conjunction with a graminicide. Residuals have in the main worked quite well, although hedge mustard and cranesbill seem to be immune to whatever residuals are applied.


Winter wheat crops are anywhere from growth stage 24 to chitting, including some in the same field. With the arrival of moisture, spraying of residuals has moved on apace. We have been applying for the last four to five weeks where we had moisture or crops that were obviously chitting / 70% emerged.


Early-sown Solstice did have quite a lot of mildew on it, but similar to the barley, a frost two weeks ago has controlled it for now. Residuals have in the main worked well, but we have needed to overspray some wheat for volunteer rape, which has come up after the residual applied did not work effectively due to a lack of moisture to activate the chemicals.


The only wheat left to drill now is a small acreage after fodder beet. This autumn has seen the lowest ever amount of slug pellets used on wheat after oilseed rape or second wheats – whether metaldehyde or methiocarb. I would hazard a guess at 2% of the wheat acreage after rape where we had poor emergence or known hot spots.


Mercifully, after the rain I am a much happier, relieved and relaxed agronomist.

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