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Cropwatch South | November 2020

Blog - 12.11.20

This October was even wetter than last for us; the wettest on record for many, in fact, with anywhere from 190–230 mm in the rain gauge across my geography.

A brief respite in the middle of the month allowed us to get some drilling done. So, we’re now 90% drilled-up with just a few fields of wheat on the worst black-grass ground and after maize still to go in. Learning from last year, we took advantage of the earlier weather window to drill some of our heaviest land first. This means we only have the lightest of our difficult ground ahead.

Knowing how much wheat we were able to drill decently well last November and how rapidly crops are coming through in the continued warmth, we’re far from concerned yet. While rolling is looking increasingly unlikely, we’re well geared-up to cover a lot ground as soon as conditions allow us to both drill to a decent depth and get a pre-em on. We simply won’t compromise on either of these essentials.

My worries about pre-em performance on some earlier-sown cereals have been dispelled by the good activity we’ve seen from our robust peri-em approach and pre-ems beefed-up with Avadex (triallate) on the heaviest ground where the likelihood of any peri-em was slim.

We are much more concerned about BYDV just now. Winged aphids are easy to find and, with night-time temperatures set to remain at up to 10oC, we’ll need to spray our barley and earlier-sown wheats again as soon as we can. It’s proving to a real challenge without Deter; especially with so few spray days available to us.

A solid autumn fungicide is fast becoming a priority too in our generally well-established OSR as phoma levels have built-up in the warm, wet weather – even in reasonably resistant varieties.

Good grassweed control in the spring barley ahead of most of our oilseed rape means broad-leaved weeds – especially poppies, thistles, cleavers and groundsel – are much more problematic than black-grass this autumn. To deal with these we’ll be combining the fungicide with Astrokerb (propyzamide + aminopyralid) wherever necessary. In the past we’ve always held-off on our propyzamide for as long as we can for the best grassweed activity, but earlier Astrokerb always gives us better broadleaved control.

Not being tempted to drill our OSR too early means we haven’t seen the sort of cabbage root fly problems being reported by some down here – purpled plants that look to be short of phosphate but are carrying 4-5 larvae in their roots. Profiting from good growing conditions, even our September-sown crops are well-rooted and going into the winter without the sort of growth likely to cause canopy management headaches.

After last autumn, we’re thankful to have got our maize off with the least possible soil damage. We have been seeing some worrying European corn borer problems, though. So, flailing off the stubbles before cultivation to expose and damage the larvae has been vital.

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