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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 28 May 2010 (for week beginning 24 May 2010)

Report compiled by Farming Online from reports received from members of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants

28 May 2010: Concern grows over yield potential of winter cereals as drought symptoms appear in more and more crops. However, disease levels remain low. Straw will be at a premium this year.

Check crops of DK Cabernet for poor pod set as more reports suggest there is a problem this year.

Spring crops too are struggling in the dry with spring beans short and spring oilseed rape slow to emerge.

Winter wheat: crops suffering from drought stress.

Wheat blossom midge - pheromone traps on farm now, and will be put out in 10-14 days.

Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Petal fall nears completion.
Photo Farming Online.

South East: Mostly still at Late flowering - ES Alienor now mostly finished flowering in some fields. Despite recent late frosts, very little sign of aborted pods or damaged buds in most crops/varieties, with the exception of DK Cabernet, which has a worrying level of aborted sites on main raceme. Looks to be around another 5-7 days of flowering left in some crops - at over 6 weeks will be longest flowering period for many years.

Sclerotinia: no further applications planned.

South West: Flowers still hanging on in many varieties. Rain urgently needed in June to ensure seed fill or yields will be compromised.

Seed weevil: very few seed weevils seen.

Eastern Counties: Flowers faded rapidly in warm temperatures of last weekend and some fields are now at the end of flowering. Leaf loss has been rapid on lighter soils and signs of drought stress are evident.

Sclerotinia: now is the time to apply a second fungicide to many crops to lengthen sclerotinia control but this is being reviewed on a farm to farm basis.

East Midlands: Many crops moving to end of flowering and these have podded up very well with promising yields. Later crops still flowering from side branches.

Sclerotinia: some high risk sites have had 2nd sclerotinia spray in the last 7 days.

Seed weevil: numbers remain below threshold in spite of recent warm weather.

West Midlands: Crops at petal fall stage and turning green again. However, there is still the odd crop at mid flowering.

Sclerotinia: all sprays now on.

North East: Most crops at 75% flowering now, and a few now reached a predominantly green colour again. Inspection of more crops of DK Cabernet this week has shown there is a significant number of pods not set on most racemes in some crops. There have been very few pollen beetle all season and a trace element mix has been applied, so unfortunately timed frosts look the most likely cause. The eventual effect on yields is impossible to estimate as rape has always been able to compensate well for setbacks during the year.

Sclerotinia: temperatures are low so expect there to be only a slight risk of infection at the moment. Will decide later whether to apply a second fungicide after a 21 day interval.

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Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Boot splitting in early crops.
Photo Farming Online.

South East: Crops now racing ahead to GS39-45, with ears now emerging quite widely, particularly on lighter soils where crops getting moisture stressed. With soil moisture deficits running at around 75-100 mm, 3 days of temperatures between 25-28 deg.C over the weekend have caused severe crop stress (leaf rolling and senescence) in many fields with gravel/sand seams - yields have now undoubtedly been compromised quite widely - all quite frustrating and disheartening at this stage for affected farms and agronomists. Around 4-6mm of rain on Thursday and a forecast of up to another 10mm at weekend will hopefully rescue prospects for majority of crops. With continuing very low disease pressure, T2 fungicides being applied from now onwards at around GS39, around 21-28 days after previous fungicides. Crops with ears emerging are having robust T2/T3 combined spray in around 7-10 days time. Crops remain very short, with not many at knee height even though flag leaf emerging/emerged.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen - except in untreated variety plots where it is now very evident in Oakley, Robigus, Viscount, Gallant and Solstice.

Mildew: still no active pustules found.

Septoria: confined to lower leaves only - top 3-4 leaves currently very clean. Combination of dry and cool conditions are likely to result in very low Septoria pressure in most crops here in the South.

Eyespot: what symptoms there were now dried up.

Weed control: Blackgrass - spring applied herbicide weed control effects can now be assessed - some very good (95-98%) control evident where populations have proven easy to control in the past, and not so good where there is a degree of resistance in population (ranging from as poor as 40-50% up to 80%).

South West: Hot weather has pushed on crops and many are now booting, with ears splitting the boot or just emerging on early drillings. Key issue is now moisture stress with any light or poorly structured heavier soils suffering badly. Stony patches on brash soils look very thin and rainfall is needed imminently to prevent major yield reduction. Early varieties such as Grafton and Gallant seem to be faring the best at the moment. Despite all the doom and gloom on light soils, wheats on heavy well structured soils still look very good. Canopies are dark green and largely disease free. Fields on varying soil types look a mosaic of shades of green as water shortage starts to bite.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: no significant levels.

Septoria: still confined to lower leaves.

Eyespot: lesions in early drillings are rarely penetrating beyond the leaf sheath.

Weed control: blackgrass is booting in missed areas.

Eastern Counties: The extremely hot weather over the weekend has taken its toll of wheat crops particularly those on light soils. Crops in these positions have rushed through the growth stages and now have ears bursting out of the 'boot'. This is in contrast to crops on well structured clays that are only at full flag leaf emergence. T2 flag leaf sprays should be finished, over the next few days.

Brown rust: trace levels only.

Yellow rust: no active disease seen.

Mildew: disease present on late drilled crops but not active.

Septoria: at low levels in most crops, in particular on early drilled and forward crops.

Weed control: wild oats now at GS 1.2-2.4 where not controlled in the autumn. Some spring wild oats germinating.

East Midlands: Most crops at flag to ear emergence - crops under stress putting ear out very soon after flag. Some patches in crops now showing drought stress i.e. flag leaf curling, poor tiller growth etc. Crops have no height and are hardly knee high. If we do not get significant rain, yields will be reduced significantly and even with rain yields may be down. Noticeable in many crops that tillers are struggling.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: levels very low - only odd stressed crop on light land showing some but vast majority clear.

Septoria: upper leaves remain clear and T2 sprays now going on to clean top leaves.

Eyespot: can be found at low levels but dry weather is drying it out, especially as crops short and open and not "sweating" at the base.

Weed control: in spite of some blackgrass regrowth biomass levels have remained low with any regrowth throwing up only small tillers - no doubt dry weather has helped keep tiller size down.

West Midlands: Majority of wheat crops now have the flag leaf fully out with some at early ear emergence. Crops remain incredibly short with only those on fertile soils looking anything like normal.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: traces on Humber and JB Diego.

Septoria: top four leaves remain clean.

Eyespot: levels much reduced.

Weed control: late germinating wild oats in some crops and some cleavers recovering.

North East: all crops GS 39 (flag leaf fully emerged) and in a few forward areas leaf sheaths just splitting. Very dry now with no rain at all in last 7 days but still no obvious signs of drought stress. A low rate of PGR being applied with T2 fungicide to some crops of first wheat Duxford and Oakley, but no crops of Viscount being treated. Most crops are short.

Yellow rust: no infection seen.

Mildew: none seen.

Septoria: final leaves 2 and 3 are clean, but there is infection on older leaves which could be easily splashed up onto them. Flag leaf fully emerged now so applying T2 as conditions permit.

Eyespot: still only being found at low levels, and no serious infections seen.

Weed control: generally control of blackgrass has been surprisingly good with a few exceptions which are under discussion now as to why. There is undoubtedly a level of resistance in some of these fields but the conditions on the day the herbicide control was applied are also of significance.

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Winter Barley

Note:Malting Quality this year: Malcolm Harrison reports on a study in the late 70s looking at malting barley quality in detail over 3 years, working with Munton and Fison Maltsters at Bridlington, but also looking at their historical data over 20 years. A clear, significant inverse correlation was found between May rainfall (including late April rainfall for winter barley) and grain nitrogen/protein. This will be reduced if we get substantial rainfall now, but only by a bit.

South East: Growth stages now mostly range from GS52-55, with ears nearly fully emerged on crops of Boost. T2 fungicides all applied end last week/beginning of this. Drought stress showing on any gravelly areas.

South West: Winter Barley flowering and all operations complete on this crop. Canopies have remained clean although yield prospects not great after the dry spring.

Eastern Counties: Crops range at awn emergence.

East Midlands: Crops now flowering so no further action to be taken. Some crops have little straw length and on light soils are struggling to support tillers.

West Midlands: Ear emergence in most crops and some starting to flower.

North East: Awns mostly emerged in forward crops of Carat. Most 6-rows a bit later. T2 application planned for next 7 days or as soon as awns mostly emerged.

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Spring Beans

: Earliest crop at first flower buds but crops are short. Pea and bean weevil still being problematic in some crops requiring third insecticide application to contain activity.

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Crop Report compiled by Farming Online from reports received from members of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants.

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