Vicki Brooks Blog: Still waiting for that rain

Company News

November 1, 2016

Vicki Brooks Blog: Still waiting for that rain

A month on from when I last wrote and we’re still waiting for the rain. It’s mid-October and we’ve had barely 10 mm since August in some areas. So we badly need some extra moisture to help our later-sown OSR along and secure decent seedbeds for our wheat – two thirds of which we’re waiting to drill.

The rape we sowed before the last week in August is growing away strongly with four to five true leaves, showing how little moisture it needs if establishment conditions are right.

Anything drilled any later, though, has been sitting at the cotyledon to two leaf stage for more than a month. And, for the first time, we’ve been feeling the flea beetle heat. Things are nowhere near as bad as further west so we’ve kept them at bay with a single insecticide spray so far.  Now it’s just a matter of wait and see.

On the bright side, in their search for moisture the rape roots are going down far better and deeper. So we shouldn’t see any crops dying on their feet as they did ahead of last harvest.

Slugs and grass weeds have been notable by their absence in the more vulnerable crops too. However, we’ll be taking early action to combat both as soon as we get the rain because we know they’re down there. Indeed, we’re just treating our better established crops with a dose of carbetamide to combat two to three leaved black-grass because we don’t want it to get too big before the ground cools down enough for the propyzamide.

We won’t be backward in dealing with any phoma on our smaller crops either; especially so with their particular vulnerability to infections and since much of our acreage is in varieties with less  phoma resistance than I’d like.

The dryness has also had the benefit of continuing to discourage those itchy wheat drilling feet. Since hardly any black-grass has emerged, though, late-drilling worries means we won’t see much, if any, useful pre-planting control. Instead, the drills will be out in force at the first sign of reasonable rain.

Under these circumstances, our focus will be getting a decent seedbed; moving as little soil as we can to wake up the least black-grass and preserve the most moisture; and ensuring a consistent sowing depth and the best seed-to-soil contact.

The very last thing we’ll be doing is cultivating to depth ahead of drilling so we don’t bring up any bricks. Although looking a little on the cloddy side, the ground we cultivated after harvest has weathered well, so it shouldn’t need much moisture to work into a nice seedbed.

We’ll also be taking a robust pre-em approach, combining flufenacet, flurtamone and diflufenican with flupyrsulfuron methyl; using the specialist adjuvant Backrow to improve coverage and boost control; and, including a permitted glyphosate in the mix to deal with any emerged weed seedlings.

In many cases we’ll be supporting this with flufenacet and DFF plus prosulfocarb and clodinafop-propargyl as a peri-em and, where we know it can still work, early post-em Atlantis. This is far better than holding-off for Pacifica in the spring only to find the black-grass gets too big by the time the conditions are right to use it.

By the time you read this we’ll probably be struggling to cope with more rain than most people can reasonably deal with. But then that seems to be par for the course these days.