Wettest autumn for half a century threatens cereals

SODDEN SOILS have left Richard Kane concerned for cereal establishment and weed control at Broglasgow House, Myroe.

“Even my father, Jim, has never seen it so wet, and he has been farming here for over 50 years,” he says.

This autumn’s conditions (Arable, Nov 12) mean his only encouraging crop is 16ha (40 acres) of Royal oilseed rape.

However, at least 80% of his planned 89ha (220 acres) of wheat has been drilled. HGCA trials on the farm were still waiting to be sown at the end of last week.

“It’s now so wet, our main problem is going to be controlling weeds. We probably won’t get on with anything now and it is getting late to use IPU or chlorotoluron mixtures.”

Meadowgrass is the farm’s main weed problem, but fortunately relatively new herbicides, such as Hussar (iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium), offer a fresh chance to tackle it in the spring, he notes. “I had good results on meadowgrass last year.”

Fortunately, a Fusilade Max/Butisan S (fluazifop-P-butyl/metazachlor) mix was applied to the oilseed rape in good time and has controlled volunteers well.

After going 100% min-till for the first time last year, Mr Kane is pleased he stuck with his Moore-drill system this time round.

“I’ve only ploughed seven acres this year – for the HGCA trials. If I had ploughed the rest, I might still have nothing in.”

The farm is well drained. Although it is in a Countryside Management Scheme, which limits the amount of ditch clearance that can be done, that is unlikely to have made much difference to the ability to travel, he says.