North: Snow clashes with propyzamide sprays

It is now time to spray your propyzamide on the oilseed rape. My e-mail prompt has arrived and I am shovelling the snow off the drive to speed off to my clients and give them the good news.

I am assured that 12cm of snow and temperatures of -5C are only minor obstacles. In general, rape crops look well and have eight or more good size leaves sufficient to survive a winter of grazing.

Winter beans are now emerging and although the total acreage sown is down, they still form a key rotation tool for many clients.

Slugs have not been a significant issue this year so it was particularly disappointing to see some metaldhyde spikes in the recent Catchment Sensitive Farming e-mail for this autumn. Although not large, they are still above the limit.

Farmers and agronomists walking crops in the past month will have noticed that many crops have been damaged by pre- and post-emergence herbicides. For the vast majority, this is a transient effect with leaching or yellowing confined to the exposed leaf at the time. The question many will ask is why?

Unfortunately for many, it was heavy rainfall shortly after application. Another aspect has been the lack of available autumn nitrogen in the seed-bed.

Large yields in the summer, and in general a dry autumn in the east, has meant that mineralised nitrogen levels were low. This coupled with rapid autumn growth conspired to initiate a shortfall. The good news is that this overall issue is transient and should have no effect on yield.

Wheat plantings are up, as a kind autumn has enabled my growers to drill after maize, potatoes and fodder beet.

Looking forward, the crops already look good, and with a kind wind should at least yield “average” but as they say: “Many a slip between cup and lip”.

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