July 7, 2015
Gearing-up for the most crucial time of the year
Into July and we’re firmly on the countdown to harvest now. But it’s not just the combining that’s occupying our minds. We’re also gearing-up for the period between harvesting and planting that is fast becoming the most critical time of the cropping year – not least in our grass weed control diaries.
First things first. The winter barleys and oilseed rapes are turning nicely and fast approaching Roundup time. While big patches of wheat are starting to burn off on the Thames gravels, crops on the chalk are keeping good and green.
Another 10-14 days of the good light intensities we’ve been seeing most of the season without the 25oC-plus temperatures of the past week is what they really need to allow their remarkably disease-free leaves to continue filling ears that hold such promise.
With the amount of late brown rust evident in untreated trials – not to mention surprising levels of Septoria given the season – the integrated approach to disease control we’ve taken in our variety choice and management has been well worthwhile. Including brown rust active triazoles in our T3s has proved especially valuable in keeping otherwise strong varieties like Crusoe that lack a little in this department completely rust-free.
Our OSR canopies are looking very promising too, with good late light penetration, pod fill and plump seeds. The sprayers will almost certainly be out in the coming week in the south of our patch. But most of our well-structured, shatter-resistant hybrids will bear a little more patience.
We know each day of pod filling lost reduces seed yield by 1-2% as well as hitting oil content hard. So we won’t be deceived by some pod midge-damaged headlands looking fit for spraying. Instead, we’ll fight our way into the crops and hold-off with the glyphosate until the main yield-bearing parts of their canopies are ready. That way we capture every bit of output we can.
While there’s not much else we can do to influence this year’s harvest, there’s a huge amount we need to be doing in the coming few weeks to make the most from the next one. In particular, to counter some acute grass weed threats.
Generally we have achieved good black-grass control this season, even on ground that had a huge seed return. But where we got things right ahead of drilling; using the integrated Stow Longa recipe of correct cultivation timing and depth, delayed drilling, pre-planting glyphosate, competitive varieties and spring cropping, where necessary, to support the chemistry. The real key, we’ve found, is to know exactly where the black-grass seed is in the soil profile and manage it accordingly.
Brome will also be a priority for us in some stubbles. The cold, dry spring did no favours for spring-applied treatments. And, with noticeably more meadow brome about, in some cases it will be a matter of leaving in on the surface to ripen for a while rather than cultivating right behind the combine.