West: Sun dance starting to work

Cautious optimism  fills my thoughts when England start the finals of any major football tournament, usually to be dashed with despair when we fail to realise our potential!

Many crops are in a similar position, despite a challenging season they have the potential to still produce a favourable outcome given good a good end to the cropping year. So, like a goal scorer is essential to progress in a tournament, a sustained period sunshine is needed for crops to fulfill their yield potential. Our wishes look like starting to come to fruition, with a settled spell of weather with good sunshine levels forecast.

I have recorded 101 mm in May and 34 mm so far in June, so we should have enough moisture to sustain crops through grain filling. Decent light levels could save us from the despair that we had in 2012, when the lack of sunshine in combination high fusarium levels resulted in desperate yields. However, I’m not sure there is going to be anything to save us from world cup despair having just watched England’s opening game!

Wheat disease control is still tracking sowing date, with crops planted in the first half of September that have had two SDHI’s but still septoria levels are significant and we are starting to lose green leaf area on leaves 2 and 3. Whereas later September and October drilled crops have less septoria and are holding better green leaf area.

Despite various timings of pyroxsulam products, sterile brome is starting to come back, although spray misses show that it has done a reasonable job. But having just trekked East to the Cereals event and seeing the levels of blackgrass that have survived significant expense, we should be grateful for small mercies here in the West. I hope some of my clients who made the trip took note.

Winter barley is still looking to have fantastic potential, with disease held well whether the sunlight has come in time to realise this potential only the combine will reveal, as a few are starting to change to that golden colour.

Oilseed rape is also looking good, standing well with minimal stem cankers, but it is a crop that is notoriously difficult to assess for yield potential. However, with the price well below £300 questions are being asked about the place of OSR in the rotation, as it is an expensive crop to grow.

I am finding a few pustules of crown rust in winter oats, so these have had a second fungicide recently to take this out and with panicles 50-75% out also helps to keep the sample bright, which is critical when selling oats for milling.

It is the time of the season where open days and trials tours are in abundance, with plenty of choice if time allows to view the latest offerings from the seed houses and what spray programmes we should have used with the benefit of hindsight. I prefer to assess varietal performance on my local patch rather than at Cereals, as I didn’t see many plots of cereals that I would have assessed as having high yield potential.

See more