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Cropwatch South | October 2021

Blog - 13.10.21

Unlike those on heavier ground, we’ve been in no hurry to get our winter cereals drilled.

Not least because our later-drilled wheats came through some appalling conditions to deliver surprisingly well and more consistently than many earlier-sown ones last season. And with lower fungicide and PGR spends too.

Even though our harvest was as disrupted by the weather as most, we had a surprisingly dry August here. Continued dryness through most of last month meant little or no blackgrass or volunteer cereal emergence and, coupled with the second warmest September on record, serious question marks over pre-em activity.
So, drilling anything but the lowest risk black-grass ground would have been madness.

All this has changed now, though, thanks to the 100mm of rain we’ve had in many cases since late September. This has given us the strong flush of blackgrass and volunteer growth we always wait for. And about two weeks earlier than last year.

The autumn dryness meant good fissuring and water infiltration from our post-harvest cultivations. Good weathering-down since has left us going into what is forecast to be a more settled spell with some excellent seedbeds.

By the time you read this, then, we should have sprayed-off the stubbles and be well into drilling the 75% of our wheat that has to have the most effective pre-Christmas grassweed control. Also, the winter malting barley that needs first class pre-planting wheat volunteer management.

We are looking to profit from plenty of warmth still in the ground, together with the right conditions for the best pre-em activity. Following the Stow Longa recipe, we’ll be moving as little soil as possible as we drill, and putting the seed in to a minimum depth of 32mm to give us the greatest pre-em flexibility.

The addition of metribuzin and aclonifen to our main flufenacet + DFF and prosulfocarb pre-em armoury is very welcome. They may only give us a little extra black-grass control, but every little helps in protecting our existing chemistry as well as bolstering its activity. Especially so, with last season under-lining just how little spring post-em control we can rely on these days.

For the most part, we are sticking with ‘dependables’ like Crusoe, KWS Zyatt, KWS Siskin and Graham showing good sustainability ratings on the Agrii Advisory List. We are growing more KWS Extase than last season, but remain cautious about putting too many of our eggs into this basket until we learn more about things other than its disease strength.

A relatively late spring barley harvest – which worked wonders for yields – meant most of our oilseed rape didn’t go in until late August/early September, was held back by the early dryness and had quite a battle with CSFB in some cases.

Direct drilling, long stubbles, companion crops, seedbed fertiliser and early crop care have really helped the crops through, though. The decent drink they’ve had several weeks earlier than last autumn means most are now motoring along with up to four true leaves.

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