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Cropwatch South | November 2022

Blog - 30.11.22

Cropwatch South – November 2022

Plenty of rain and an upturn in temperatures have transformed any oilseed rape and cover crops finding it hard going earlier on and been very welcome for everything else. But they’ve brought us another set of challenges, resulting in a substantial spraying backlog.

A good 100mm of rain across much of Hampshire in the first week of November brought wheat drilling as well as spraying to a grinding halt. Even so, the last of our wheats should be safely in the ground by the time you read this, joining crops emerging really nice and evenly from some of the best drilling conditions in recent memory.

Our pre-ems – including more cinmethylin than originally planned - seem to be working well, thanks to good quality seedbeds, a particular focus on sowing depth control, effective rolling and, now, a decent amount of soil moisture.

Carefully balancing risk and spend, wherever we’re using more robust pre-ems we’re reigning back on our peri-ems. However, we still can’t do without them in most cases. So, our big challenge at the moment is finding enough spray days; every day we don’t get the peri-ems on being an extra day for black-grass to escape. If it stays so mild we may even need to think about some sort of post-em follow-up!

Little reliable cold weather on the horizon is adding cereal aphicides to our current spray programme pressure. Especially so, as aphid numbers have built-up noticeably in volunteers in both overwintered stubbles and covers.

Also joining the sprayer priority list is growth regulation for very big and tall 7-8 leaf OSR crops that have been revelling in the conditions. Even further ahead than last year, they’re due for a PGR with their autumn fungicide in the form of Architect (mepiquat-chloride + prohexadione-calcium + pyraclostrobin) as soon as possible.

Thankfully, the Centurion Max (clethodim) we managed to apply before the weather got in the way has nicely removed early grassweed competition, together with the temptation to spray propyzamide before soil temperatures get low enough – which may well not be before Christmas now.

Doing far better than seemed possible just four weeks ago, our OSR companions are showing little sign of dying back yet. But the OSR is growing away from them well and the planned propyzamide plus aminopyralid should finish them off.

Having done almost nothing until mid-September, our cover crops have huge canopies too. For those with access to sheep, grazing sooner rather than later is the order of the day, limiting this to removing no more than two thirds of the growth to avoid damaging the soil and losing too much of the nutrients they’ve captured.

The turnaround in their fortunes means effective destruction of these covers as well as the understories of black-grass many are carrying beneath their canopies will be soon become a priority. And a much more challenging one if we don’t get enough frost to open them up first.

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