West: Crops haven’t moved on in last month

Frustration is the first word that comes to mind, we seem to be in that awkward position of one step forward followed by two back which is where we are today. Since my last blog, the five days of dry extended to three whole weeks (I think this was the longest dry spell since that fateful day at the end of the first week in April last year!).


Ground conditions improved remarkably, better than most of us could believe, even some of the pools disappeared. This allowed the majority of crops to have the first split of nitrogen along with sulphur, 15mm of rain spaced over two days at the end of the “dry spell ” will have got the nitrogen in nicely without leaching issues.


But a further 15 mm of rain at the end of the week along with snow for some has now left the ground too wet to do anything again. The forecast for the week does not look too special either. Crops have not really moved on in the last four weeks – oilseed rape looks a bit bigger where the pigeons have not annihilated it!


There was a flurry of winter wheat sowing followed by plenty of discussion re vernalisation requirements, I think the best comment I heard was “keep your fingers crossed”.

Spring barley sowing got under way before the first rainfall 10 days ago with some more at the beginning of last week, this was primarily on what would be the traditional spring barley ground ie light land, crops were going in well albeit soil temperatures are such that not a lot is going to happen in the short term, also some spring beans were drilled last week.


All cereals due a top up of nitrogen from next week (winter barley theoretically getting its final split ), but at the moment I think we will have to see what conditions are like next week.

Winter barley crops look a little bit greener on the lighter land, but heavy land crops seem to be stationary and looking pretty miserable. Weed wise most have now managed to apply Liberator to those crops not sprayed in the autumn, those that were autumn sprayed seem remarkably clean with just the odd cleaver seeming to be the main problem with spring germinating wild oats coming through on the lighter land.


I would like to sort out T0 applications, but with conditions as they are I am loathed to get anything on farm as T0 may well turn into T1


Pigeons have increased their attacks on winter oilseed rape with some saying they are as bad now as they have been all winter, this is not helped by the fact that the crops are not accelerating away as they would normally be doing so by now.


There is a lot of crop scorch from the bitterly cold conditions that we have experienced over the last three weeks. We did end up applying more Crawler than initially anticipated due to the rapid drying of fields (still substantially less than we would normally apply).


As with the winter barley, I am not rushing to get light leaf spot/phoma sprays on farm as it is either too wet  or too cold for products to work so am waiting for the forecast to improve at the moment. I do have crops of rape that would benefit from growth regulation, but as before either too wet or cold to contemplate putting product on farm as yet.


Winter wheat has been pretty much stationary over the last four weeks and we have now sorted out what is receiving Atlantis or Othello (fortunately most unsprayed crops are pretty clean and the Othello should not have too much work to do as weeds are small, working on the premise that we will be spraying before the end of April!).


Autumn-sprayed crops are the same, in the main very clean crops in terms of weeds present. Most min tilled crops after rape do have brome present, but not in large quantities. I put this down to later sowing and most stubbles having had Round up applied pre drilling.


I had one report today of yellow rust in a crop of Gallant, but as with other crops can see no window of opportunity to spray anything this week. Will the T0 on early wheat end up being the T1?


I am sure that spring is just around the corner  and just as the ground dried up remarkably over the three weeks of dry crops will respond to warm sunny growing weather. Forever the optimist!

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