West: Weather dominates decision making

I have recorded just over 30mm of rain since the 1st March, so understandably crops are beginning to struggle.  Some soil types are holding out better than others, and variability within fields is now evident.

The stress crops are under is causing them to rush through their growth stages, and as a result wheat can be found with flag leaf emerging.  Blackgrass is also heading early this year.

Dews and warm temperatures mean septoria can be found on leaf five, and occasionally on leaf four.  Given that wheat crops are short and upright, infected leaves are rubbing against newly emerging leaves.  Mildew can now be found, particularly in stressed crops.

Decisions on flag leaf sprays are pending, but presenting a real dilemma.  Disease pressure, weather and yield potential all need to be considered, and in many cases the T1 has not been on too long.

Remember that the T2 is in theory your most important fungicide.  Reducing rates drastically means you have no insurance.

Awns are coming out in winter barley crops.  T2 fungicides are being applied, but doses tailored to account for current low disease levels.

Spring barley is struggling in the dry.  Complex tank mixes are being avoided in order to not add further stress to the crop.  Fortunately disease levels are fairly low.

Some later  oilseed rape crops are struggling to flower and have set few pods as yet.  Various reasons have been put forward, but in these situations it is very often a combination of factors.

Hopefully, these crops will exhibit similar powers of recovery that we saw last year.  That said, a good dose of rain would surely improve the crops ability to recover.

Pea crops are looking fairly well, but pre-emergence herbicides have struggled given the lack of moisture.  Do we wait for rain to ‘soften’ up the weeds prior to post-emergence herbicide applications?  What if it does not rain and the weeds get even tougher?  No doubt the answer to this dilemma will become obvious with hindsight.

Finally, given the stress crops are under I am trying to avoid complex tank mixes.  In hot weather spraying in the evening helps reduce the risk of scorch.  Admittedly this suggestion does not always go down too well with farmers wives.

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