West: Taking stock of the 2014 crops

Another reporting season draws to a close and it’s the last time to take stock and reflect on the 2014 crop situation.

It has been much more of a normal autumn then the last two. The past two or three weeks have been wet with little or no drilling activity possible, however, one or two short dry spells have allowed some spraying activity. All the rape has been covered for phoma and light leaf spot. The sheer size of some of the canopies means that migration of spores down petioles to the stems will be very slow reducing the possibilities of stem cankers forming.  Light Leaf spot is no respecter of canopy size so care is still needed.

Crops look in good order going into the winter. No wheat crops are over thick, even mid-September drillings have got to around 5 or 6 tillers then steadied up. Winter oats look to be winter dormant with three or four tillers.

Spring oat volunteers have been troublesome in winter wheat, a reflection of high screenings after the hot and dry June. We are taking them out now with clodinafop, as leaving them until the spring can result in reduced control through shading of smaller plants.

Some winter barley has become very lush and a handful of Cassia has needed mildew treatment where the disease was infecting the youngest emerged leaf.  The forecast colder weather should stop further disease development.

If considering Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) or Unite (flupyrsulfuron + pyroxsulam) treatments on wheat over the next week, remember the golden rule that the herbicide should go onto a dry leaf then dry on. Many failures of control occur because the herbicide was sprayed late in the day and never dried on properly. Crop inspections over the last few days show that there are occasions when the wheat is wet but the blackgrass target dry. This is fine for the blackgrass part of the spray, but remember that any insecticide in the mix requires a dry wheat leaf to be fully effective.

This autumn has seen the lowest slug pellet use for many years. It is interesting to note that wheat on heavy land after spring oilseed rape has few problems, but those situations after winter rape are invariably heavily attacked by slugs.

Winter bean drilling is largely complete although no crops have emerged yet. Some seed-beds have not been levelled, which is a concern for pre-emergence herbicides.

Propyzamide applications are now going on, with soil conditions are just about there. New innovation, Astrokerb (propyzamide + aminopyralid), has proved very effective when applied against thistles and docks. Pigeons have not yet moved into rape with a vengeance.

That’s all until the spring, hope the crops come out of the winter as well as they have entered it.  We look forward to getting to work with growing crops. Until then it will be a winter of training courses, technical meetings and nitrogen planning interspersed with a welcome Christmas break. Here’s wishing you all the best.

See more