September 26, 2017
Iain Richards Blog: A fair finish and a good start
Although it failed to deliver on its earlier promise, courtesy of a very hot week in early July and an unbelievably wet August, we can’t really be disappointed with our harvest.
We had very few winter rape crops over 4.5 t/ha. But again very few were under 3.8t/ha. And winter wheat yields were in a similarly tight ‘good average’ band. Wheat quality, though, really suffered in places as so much spring barley coming ready at the same time and deteriorating so rapidly simply had to be prioritised for the few decent harvesting hours available.
As well persuading those with stretched combining capacities, in particular, to limit their area of quality wheats in future, this experience has opened our eyes to several varieties that hang-on to their structure and quality noticeably better than others.
With all the combining pressures, most of this season’s winter rape didn’t go in until the last week of August or the first week of September. Even so, plenty of moisture with decent seedbeds, consolidation and fertiliser placement has meant very good establishment.
As a result, slugs have yet to cause us serious problems, despite the wetness. And the earlier-sown crops, at least, have grown away well from any flea beetle attack, reaching 2-3 true leaves in double quick time.
We’re not out of the woods yet; especially with our later drillings which are well behind and having to cope with much colder conditions. So we’re keeping our pest control guard firmly up on both fronts here.
Volunteer control is also a particular priority across our rape this season. There were plenty of spring barley heads that couldn’t be picked-up at harvest and we know how damaging barley volunteers can be.
We’re holding back on any black-grass treatment in the OSR for as long as we dare to reduce the pressure on using propyzamide too early. However, we’ve already glyphosated-off some incredible flushes of black-grass in our pre-cereal stubbles and, having tickled them up, should be able to deal the seed bank another timely blow ahead of most of our autumn sowing.
Wheat drilling – on low black-grass risk ground only – is imminent now. We’re using slower developing varieties like Crusoe and Graham here and relying on Deter to help us cope with big populations of slugs in OSR stubbles. I dread to think how we’ll cope if we can’t use it in the future.
Ground conditions may be good – providing it stops raining – but it will be a few weeks before we begin drilling our higher black-grass risk fields. If the current much cooler conditions continue, though, we may be able to go in mid- rather than late-October. By then we should have seen off the bulk of the early weed growth and soil temperatures should be ideal for the best pre- and peri- em efficacy. This will certainly mean those with big acreages to drill can sleep a lot more soundly this time around.