1 Grain quality is already suffering in both wheat and barley. Botrytis was visible on wheats at the NIAB Seeds open day last month; the anthers stick to the glumes post-flowering which become quickly colonised by disease, rotting the spikelet.
Although the wet weather has come too late for true ear blights, when ears become bleached, there will be fusarium and sooty moulds causing grain discolouration and reducing specific weights.
High levels of fusarium on the ears will, of course, give high levels on seed. This is not the year to contemplate home-saving seed without a seed treatment.
As for barley, much of it is flat which will cause problems with maturity and quality. Fusarium is not such a problem with barley seed, but specific weights will suffer.
National plant pathologist,
ADAS Boxworth, Cambs.
2 It is still too early to predict a poor hagberg year. If the weather remains wet over the next fortnight then hagbergs will suffer. However, if the sun shines problems should disappear.
Wet, cool weather during the dough stage (GS85) causes alpha-amylase to accumulate in the grain, which pulls down hagberg levels. Wetter soils in turn lead to greater risk from lodging, which in itself encourages sprouting and the development of alpha-amylase.
Theres a not a lot you can do,
except keep lodged crops separate from the rest of the standing crops in store. If whole fields are lodged it may be worth gravity separating to remove the sprouted grains.
Harper Adams, Shropshire.
3 Crop lifters will be invaluable at harvest, but its a case of remembering how to use them again. Remember to adjust forward speed so that the crop lifters are allowed to their job properly; taking the crop gently off at the highest lift.
As for grain drying, check automatic controls are in good condition and calibrated correctly. The basic principles of loading floor driers – spread evenly along the lateral, not putting grain on top of previously dried grain – will be crucial this year in bulk floor driers.
Layer wet loads carefully so air has a chance to go through uniformally. Do not pile grain with over 20% moisture content higher than 6ft.
For continuous batch driers, check all burners and controls thoroughly before harvest. If driers are being used to remove a lot of moisture, it is important to cool the grain adequately in storage, otherwise insects, mites and moulds will become a big problem. Grain needs to be below 15íC as soon as possible in bulk stores.