West: Vernalisation concerns for late-drilled crops

As we stand, three-quarters of sowings have now been done and in remarkably good order. The last fortnight has been rather frustrating because the weather broke too soon, but we can’t complain given such a good run and its still only mid-March. 


We haven’t had very much rain in total, maybe 30 mm, but just enough to halt sowings on anything but light sands.


The winter wheat that was sown in the last few days of February is a bit of concern because its only just sprouted now and it will need vernalisation before we know for sure that it’s a crop.  However, I’m given to understand that its cold-accumulation starts at the earliest sprouting, so this cold weather will help it – even while its still in the ground.


 It may be a bit of a tall order for varieties with a latest safe sowing date at end-January, but which don’t actually emerge above ground till April.  They probably will make it but they might be very late.

The cold weather has not helped the autumn-sown crops which are still miserable, many looking more like bare ground than anything else. Nitrogen has now been on a month but has made barely no impression given the frosty conditions.  However, I can’t see any point in applying more just yet since the first lot cannot have gone anywhere.  However, by the end of the month, we’ll be applying another small dose, 50 kg/ha N.


Is there any point in foliar feeds such as liquid phosphites?  No – not while they are being applied to 99% bare ground. You cannot foliar feed if you have no foliage.  Its an area ripe for rip-offs; beware reps flogging magical remedies at fantastic prices and little science behind them.

Given our new-found positive mind set, its bound to warm up fairly soon and that’s all that crops really want.  We aren’t even really bothered about much weed or disease control just yet either, other than maybe 5% of crops which qualify as bona fide prospects.  All the rest have yet to turn into something that we can start to manage as crops. 


There is a bit of manganese being applied, especially to light land, and even a bit of chlormequat and some cheap fungicides.  However, the state of the crops currently means that there is no point wasting money on them.  April is just round the corner and crops will then need plenty of management and some kind weather.

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