Growers in Scotland and northern England must avoid the temptation to rush late drillings, despite being miles behind schedule, says adviser Jim Rennie.
Current input andcrop prices give very little margin for error in arable profitability, and hasty decisions on saturated soils could increase the risk of serious soil structure and weed problems, he adds.
“Most growers are under acute pressure to drill as much wheat as possible, as quickly as possible,” says Mr Rennie, technical director at CSC Crop Protection. Only about one-third of the expected oilseed rape area was sown this autumn, and wheat drilling progress is well behind.
“However, growers could easily be throwing good money after bad by trying to cobble winter wheat into vulnerable ground late in the year.”
He urges them to take time to tackle the huge weed burden in the stubble, spraying off the green bridge with a modern glyphosate formulation like Roundup Max or Energy, which he claims work better in tough conditions.
“Only sow when conditions are right, regardless of sowing date. And be prepared to consider spring cropping or fallowing, particularly where soil structural damage is severe or drainage problems need correcting.” Spring crops can also help get rotations back on track next year, he says.
Spring malting barley looks promising if top quality can be achieved, as do quality spring wheats, given good milling premiums.
Fallow could be a better choice, perhaps using Indian mustard to provide a better, early first wheat entry than a spring crop, says Mr Rennie.