West: Weather finally closes in, in the south west region.

With some very heavy rain through the latter part of October and early-November, the ground has now become very wet in many areas throughout the region. Most crops, including maize for grain and other late harvested crops have been safely harvested and in most cases the following crop drilled in, but only in the nick of time. This means that on many units drilling is now three and a half months ahead of last year.

In most cases the crops have gone in well, which again is an improvement over 2012. It would therefore be safe to say that at this stage of the season yield potential is better than it was twelve months ago. I hope that by stating the obvious I have now not put the “kiss of death” on this year’s plantings.

The worry with ground conditions now being so wet is that crops which are desperately in need of a herbicide or aphicide, or both may not receive them at the optimum time. With temperatures still remaining unseasonably mild the barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) threat is  getting ever greater, particularly where crops were planted without Deter (clothianidin) seed treatment.

Many barley crops did not receive a planned pre-em due to rain immediately post planting and have subsequently emerged with little prospect of getting a peri- or early post-em treatment on because of ground conditions. This situation could become quite serious in fields where mixed grass weed populations are a problem. Every effort should be made to get recommended applications on at the earliest opportunity, even if ground conditions are not ideal.

Non Deter-treated early-drilled crops are now at SEVERE risk of BYDV infection and should now be treated with an aphicide, even if it means making a bit of a mess in the fields. For those growers who have never had a severe BYDV infection, I hope you never do, and those who have, will I am sure do all in their power to make sure that they do not have a repeat.

Most rape crops have now recieved a Phoma/Light Leaf Spot fungicide and are generally looking well established and well set for whatever the winter might throw at us. Where charlock is a problem, crops are now receiving an “Off Label” application of Fox (bifenox), before the charlock gets too large and hardened off.

Due to generally good drilling conditions, nearly all wheat crops are looking remarkably well, irrespective of growth stage, which ranges from just emerging to Growth Stage 23 on some of the earliest drilled crops. Slugs have generally not been a problem so far this autumn. I have, however, just been contacted about some newly emerged wheat after ley where the slugs are grazing the crop fairly hard, but have not yet reduced plant population. Growers should inspect their crops on a regular basis through the establishment period to monitor what is happening with slugs

Hopefully the coming weeks will bring slightly drier conditions and we will be able to get up to date with herbicide and aphicide applications. This will certainly need to be the case if high yield potential is to be maintained.

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