West: Wishing everyone a successful harvest

No weird weather events to report since I last put a report in. Actually, it’s been fairly normal stuff, with isolated showers and warm weather. Temperatures have soared over the last 4 days to reach 28C today.

This has had the effect of light land crops suddenly turning over the weekend (light patches within fields rather than complete fields). Lighter land early maturing oilseed rape crops are also starting to turn and we may just be able to start desiccating rape at the end of this week.

The hot weather we are experiencing will, I am sure, bring a potentially very late harvest forward somewhat, but my primary concern is that many winter crops are very shallow rooted and along with the late appearance of ears, there will potentially be a foreshortened grain filling period, which in theory will impact on yield. Evidence of poor rooting is highlighted by how quickly crops are burning off on lighter patches.

Spring crops look to have good potential ( s. beans, s. barley, s. oats and particularly s. osr ) most of which have raced through the growth stages after the slow start in April and May .

With the potential of a later harvest there has been much talk of when we will have time to drill winter oilseed rape after second wheats. With some also looking at the growing costs of second wheats, there will potentially be more winter barley going in the ground this autumn to guarantee an early entry for winter rape next season. How much of it will be hybrid six-row will be dependent upon how many can stomach the cost of the seed and whether we can convince ourselves that there will be additional yield to cover the extra cost.

It will also be important to remember when ordering winter rapeseed that this will be the last autumn (ever?) that neonicotinoid seed dressings can be legally used before the two year ban on usage comes into effect , so if in doubt as to whether rape will be drilled, consider alternative seed dressings. Some of my clients will look at spring oilseed rape following potentially late harvested wheat. I think most will want to get winter rape in by the end of the last week of September at the latest after our experiences of the last 12 months.

Potentially more of the winter oilseed rape will be going into Hybrid varieties as they continue to impress in terms of their yield, particularly the newer semi-dwarf hybrids. We have a reasonable area of troy in this year, which most definitely exhibited good autumn vigour and all these crops look to have good potential. In fairness most rape crops look reasonable because we ripped up all the poor looking crops!

Despite the state of the stem bases of many wheat crops – infected with fusarium and microdochium – ears are not going a funny colour yet! I suspect that with the amount of prothioconazole product that was applied T1, T2 and T3, along with relatively dry weather during a more normal flowering period (ie 7-10 days rather than 3 weeks as last year) that we will probably not see the issues we had last year.

Interesting articles popping up over the last 3-4  weeks on other products being more active on ear blights than the industry standard (no doubt we have all read the same articles?). If I understand correctly it would seem that most of the evidence suggesting greater activity is based upon lab work, so it will be interesting to see if there will be independent field trials this year to back up the lab work as it would be good news if there is alternative products to combat the new scourge of wheat crops. I know it’s not new, but I cannot remember a year as bad as last year for ear complex diseases. It’s amazing how prochloraz keeps popping up as a solution after so many years of it being shunned!

We are all busy planning rotations, varieties, seed dressings, seed rates and autumn fertiliser inputs.

I wish everybody a successful harvest and hopefully with some half decent yields this year. Along with, and probably more importantly after last year’s debacle, a good back end for getting autumn sowing done and dusted (no pun intended!)


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