We have had a month of rain through October and very limited spells of dry weather to cultivate or drill. The ground that had been cultivated before the rain is now very wet, so the stubbles destined for spring cropping is now being earmarked for winter wheat drilling when a suitable window arrives.
I would estimate that cereal drilling was 15-20% complete as I write this Friday 1st November. We have been very lucky over the past two years, with open autumns allowing growers to drill everything in one go.
This year, I think it will be a case of picking off the driest fields. Some growers are also switching to smaller, lighter tine drills or ploughing immediately ahead of power-harrow combination drills to get crops in the ground. On the wettest and heaviest soils, winter drilling may be abandoned altogether and a spring crop put in next year.
Unfortunately, we are now getting cases of oilseed rape crops showing high levels of cabbage stem flea beetle larvae in plants. Some farms have had their entire OSR area ripped up, so it is another difficult autumn for the crop.
I have already spoken with growers who have managed to drill blocks of land, but not get a pre-emergence herbicide on soon after. The risk of doing this is that blackgrass will come up with the wheat and could result in the crop being written off, as it will be difficult to control. Where possible, take a field-by-field approach, drilling and applying a pre-emergence herbicide within 48 hours, particularly where blackgrass pressure is high. This will help get the most out of the residual chemisty we have.
Be aware that robust pre-emergence grassweed herbicide stacks can cause crop damage when applied peri- or early post-emergence. If forced into this situation, think about what you are putting in the tank. The base of any application should be 0.6L/ha of Liberator. Check our compatability tank mix options to ensure that tankmixes are supported pre or post emergence.
There is a hesitancy to invest in oilseed rape crops at the moment because of the flea beetle pressure across the region and this is understandable. However, the wet conditions has heightened phoma risk and now it is cooling down, light leaf spot also comes into the frame.
There are also some small plants, which is a concern when there is high phoma pressure, as the infection can move into the stem and cause stem canker. The larger, early-drilled crop will be more at risk from light leaf spot. Consider a fungicide with activity on both, such as Proline (prothioconazole). This may tie in with other applications, such as herbicides, so it can all be applied in one pass.
We had a veg open day in conjection with breeder Seminis, looking at brassica veg varieties and crop protection programmes for diseases and pests. We had a new contact-acting bioinsecticide on show called Flipper, which is based on a by-product of olive oil production. It can be used on a wide range of crops, mostly on an extension of authorisation for minor use (EAMU), and controls a number of pests, including aphids and whitefly. It is very safe for beneficials and organically certified.
With conventional products being lost, it is definitely one to watch. These biologically products aren’t necessarily going to perform to the same level as conventional ones, but they can play a valuable role in programmes in the future.