West: Spray opportunities limited by weather

The last two weeks have seen very few opportunites for spraying with wet and windy conditions dominating.  Thus far in November I have measured 5.5 inches of rain, so if you took the sprayer into some fields I dont think it would get out!

Occasional fields have seen persistent slug activity and have required more than one application of pellets.  However, in general slug problems have been significantly lower than last autumn.

Winter barley and some early-drilled wheats are now lush and soft so care needs to be taken when spraying, especially if frosts are forecast.  These crops are also carrying high levels of disease, particularly mildew. 

Significant black-grass emergence has been found in some fields.  The pre-em’s have struggled this year in early-drilled crops given the dry conditions.  This is perhaps not suprising given that in some situations the pre-em was applied six weeks before the blackgrass started to emerge.

In these situations autumn application of Atlantis is planned, but the weather will dictate when it actually goes on.  If autumn conditions are not conducive to maximising the efficacy of the product then we will resort to a spring application.

Many rape crops are now very strong, arguably too strong, as they are up to the top of my wellies!  This should, however, help in the battle against pigeons!

Phoma was first seen in rape approximately three weeks ago, but it has not really developed very rapidly.  That said, trying to get a dry leaf to apply fungicides has been challenging, so where the opportunity has arisen crops have been sprayed.

Propyzamide or carbetamide applications have been planned for grassweed control, and we await suitable conditions for application.  Quite how we can successfully get these residual herbicides onto the soil through some of these very large crop canopies remains to be seen.

Thoughts are now turning to spring cropping decisions.  A balance needs to be struck between gross margin budgets and maintaining a sustainable rotation.  An area for healthy debate between agronomist and farmer!



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