East: Yields and quality variable

What a struggle harvest has been. The spring drought seems to have had a much bigger impact on final production than was first thought, but increased prices have helped offset some of the yield losses.

Winter barley yields and quality have been good, but after a promising start spring barleys ended up being very varied in both yield and quality. Most of these problems can be pinned on the lack of nitrogen uptake due to a three-month dry period. Wheat yields in this area look to be averaging around 8.75t/ha, which is approaching a tonne down on last year.

Careful soil management will be needed where harvest has been delayed, mainly where trailers have been running on soggy fields. However, I have had clients telling me that the subsoil it is still dry and the problems are mainly at the soil surface.

A fair amount of early oilseed rape has gone in and emergence has been rapid. The rain means conventionally established crops have not suffered through lack of moisture, but I think non-inversion methods will be best now providing the soils are not too damaged.

In the last couple of days I have seen flea beetles in some crops, though damage is not yet severe thanks to the seed-dressings. However, they are not repellents and some pricking will occur on cotyledons as they try to feed. The trick is to be ready to go in with a pyrethroid if this pricking turns into shot-holing.

There have not been a lot of herbicide treatments done as yet here so a lot will be at the early post-emergence timing, with the inclusion of a graminicide as blackgrass is emerging rapidly alongside volunteer barley.

Some sugar beet crops that were sprayed in mid July are now being considered for a repeat spray with decisions being made as to which will be harvested first to take Harvest Intervals into account.

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