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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 06 May 2011 (for week beginning 02 May 2011)

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

Drought: is now taking its toll on cereals on light land. Loss of tillers and lower leaves is common and the worst affected crops will have lost yield potential even if it does rain.
Late flowering rape crops are showing high rates of flower abortion and although the variety DK Cabernet is mentioned as the main candidate the problem is not restricted to this one variety.

Headlines: Flag leaf emergence in wheat. Some crops in the South at ear emergence. Winter barley awns and ears emerging.
Poor pod set in late flowering rape. Drought stress common.

Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Flower abortion common
in late flowering crops.
Photo Farming Online.

South East: Most crops now between late flowering and the end of flowering, with pods filling. Some crops beginning to look very well, especially variety Ovation, while others on lighter soils have shown lots of flower abortion and those that are seriously water stressed finished flowering in around 2 weeks - not a good sign.

Sclerotinia: with most crops now at the end of flowering the risk of further infection conditions is rapidly declining.

Seed weevil: very low levels so far.

South West: August drilled Excalibur is now green not yellow, other varieties still flowering. There have been some worrying instances of poor pod set on the main raceme over a whole range of varieties. The one common thread appears to be drilling beyond early September and subsequent later flowering. Apart from this rape generally looks in very good order.

Sclerotinia: treatments now complete.

Seed weevil: very low levels so far.

Eastern Counties: Dropping petals rapidly and setting pods in warm weather. However, can see a lot of blind sites on drought stressed crops. On light soils crops look spindly and are rapidly losing leaf and wilting on the very hot days. Some very badly pigeon damaged areas only just coming into flower. On the more fertile moisture retentive soils plants look vigorous, still have plenty of leaf and conditions have been ideal for pollination.

Sclerotinia: sprays now applied although it has been dry we have aimed for early petal fall and have decided with current price for oilseed rape we will not take any risks. Waiting to see weather pattern over next two weeks and see how long crops remain in flower before considering a follow up Sclerotinia spray.

Seed weevil: observed at threshold levels in some crops.

East Midlands: Crops vary from 75% flowered to half flowered with the odd crop at yellow bud where pigeon damaged and standing still in the dry conditions. Some pod abortion on most crops but DK Cabernet seems worst and Compass seems to have least.

Sclerotinia: sprays now all on with some delayed until mid flowering where risk low. Higher risk fields that had an early flower spray about to have second spray after 3 weeks are up, as risk will rise if it rains.

West Midlands: Mid to late flowering in many crops. Quite a few late flowering crops showing poor pod set due to flower abortion. It is thought this is a combination of frosts in March and the drought in April.

Sclerotinia: treatments completed.

Seed weevil: none seen yet.

North East: Most crops are at mid-flowering, and have set pods well. There is a worry in some Cabernet crops which again seems to have missed a lot of pods setting on the main stem. Despite this problem, it yielded exceptionally well last year. Poor pod set has also been seen in a couple of crops of Sesame, but its early days yet.

Sclerotinia: all crops now treated.

Seed weevil: this can be a very damaging pest in conjunction with bladder pod midge. The threshold level is 1 weevil/2 plants and they can be difficult to find. This year they are present at up to 3 weevil in a flower stem.

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Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Wheat crop irrigated on
the left with 20 mm
14 days earlier
Photo Farming Online.

South East: Here in the South we have suffered the driest April since 1912 apparently - with only 6 mm of rain recorded, I can well believe it - at least we are not alone! Inevitably, with the ongoing warm and dry conditions, crop growth has accelerated as a combination of declining soil water supply and nutrient availability impact on crop physiology - in much the same fashion as we experienced in April 2007. September and early October sown crops of Gallant, Cordiale and Solstice have raced ahead to GS 37-39, with flag leaves now typically showing on main shoots. Even September sown Claire and Scout have moved rapidly in the last week and are also now at GS 33-37 with flag leaves 2/3 emerged on main shoots in Scout. Later sown crops now generally around GS 32, with leaf 2 emerging rapidly and tip of flag leaves showing. Crops on lighter soils desperate for rain and farms with access to water have been irrigating lighter fields in last 2 weeks - those without irrigation can sadly only watch crops and yield prospects wither away. Otherwise, most wheat crops are holding up surprisingly well to date. T1 applications now mostly completed, and with disease pressure (especially Septoria) remaining very low, these sprays were targeting leaf 2 emergence and will have given some cover to flag leaves also.

Mildew: low levels of fresh pustules noticeable on lower leaves/stems of thicker crops of Solstice, Gallant and JB Diego.

Brown rust: still none seen.

Yellow rust: in general not a problem, but have found first foci in a second wheat crop of Solstice.

Septoria: despite seemingly dry conditions, now visible on tip of leaf 4 in earliest sown crops of Claire and Scout, indicating a degree of leaf to leaf transmission through dews.

Eyespot: still only very low levels noted to date, but a surprising increase in its incidence in last week despite overall dry conditions of March and April to date.

Weed control: blackgrass control from both Autumn and Spring applied herbicides appears very good to date, with control looking to be 95%+ in many cases. However, there has been the odd almost total failures which are hard to explain without concluding resistance is implicated - worrying.

South West: Except on the heavier moisture retentive soils wheat is looking drought stressed with curled leaves and tiller loss. JB Diego on light land looks especially bad. On sheltered and coastal sites early varieties such as Grafton and Gallant have the ear just starting to emerge. Any crops which had delayed N applications look poor through lack of uptake. In some cases the crop was booting 10 days after a T1 treatment which is likely to throw remaining timings into disarray. Wheat can produce an acceptable yield down to 400 heads/sq metre - we must have rain in May for grain development.

Mildew: building up on stressed crops.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: any spray misses on susceptible varieties are riddled with yellow rust.

Septoria: confined to older leaves.

Eyespot: not progressing in the current dry weather.

Weed control: minor flush of polygnums in some crops especially on frost weathered clays.

Eastern Counties: As the dry conditions continue to prevail, early drilled wheat crops are pushing on to T2 timing decision, flag leaf emergence. These wheat crops still look in good health especially where sewage sludge was applied in the autumn. Where rainfall has been scarce, crops are in stem extension and struggling to take up nitrogen, hence looking very stressed. However, more than half of the nitrogen that will influence yield in a winter wheat crop is taken up after the end of April, so there is no need to panic yet. If eventually the crop starts to grow normally and moisture deficits are rectified, then a wheat crop will take up as much as 3 kg N/ha per day in May, and up to another 50 kg N/ha from the start of flowering.

Mildew: present and active in some forward crops.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: significant levels pre-treatment in susceptible varieties such as Oakley and Robigus,lower levels on Viscount, Conqueror and occasionally Solstice. No reports of re-infection yet on any treated crops.

Septoria: present in a number of varieties notably Viscount and Oakley.

Eyespot: low levels.

Weed control: here and there spring germinating 'polygonums' such as redshank and black bindweed have appeared, they remain small and will struggle to compete unless fields are particularly backward.

East Midlands: Forward crops have flag leaf tip showing with many crops with leaf 2 emerging or emerged. Flag leaf may well be out by mid May so T2 may well be when ears emerging where T1 just going on. Very dry with crops showing moisture stress on lighter soils.

Mildew: earlier fungicide treatments prevented any development.

Yellow rust: treated crops remain clean.

Septoria: upper leaves remaining very clean.

Eyespot: with the dry, levels remain very low - as low as I have seen them in many seasons with only odd plants or fields with some browning of stems.

Weed control: brome control herbicides all applied but dry weather may cause a drop in control but delaying not an option as some brome starting to come into ear.

West Midlands: Early sown Grafton and Humber have flag leaf 3/4 emerging, with a lot of other crops that were sown by the third week of September with flag just starting to show as well. All later sown crops have leaf 2 up to 2/3rd out - no crops at a stage behind this. It is very very dry with some areas recording no rain in April at all. Light land wheat is visibly dying and needs water now, so much for not irrigating until flag leaf. Quite a few crops have now been irrigated (primarily before moving on to potatoes at which point they will not return). Noticeable how Grafton is standing up to the dry conditions both as a first and second wheat whereas JB Diego does not look happy, although it has to be said that it is primarily in the second wheat slot, saw some today on heavy land as a second wheat and it looks fine.

Mildew: worse on JB Diego.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none in treated crops.

Septoria: visible on older leaves only, none on leaf 3 as yet.

Eyespot: early sown Humber and JB Diego has some rather nice lesions with some having penetrated through the outer leaf sheath.

North East: Crops generally GS 32, but there is still a big spread in actual crop heights with some of the later sown wheat after wheat looking drought stressed now. Yet another 7 days without rain, and sadly no heavy dews either. Total rainfall locally is 8mm for March, and 7mm for April.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: some re-infection just developing in a few crops of Oakley where the T0 was applied early giving a 21+ days gap to the T1.

Septoria: lesions still confined to older leaves and no new infection seen. The risk is still there, though, as any rain would create a rapid spread of infection.

Eyespot: lesions are easy to find on outer leaf sheaths of early sown varieties but the dry conditions have stopped aggressive penetrating symptoms developing.

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Winter Barley

South East: Another week of rapid crop growth, with crops of Cassata now mostly at GS 45-52 with ears emerging/emerged, and most other crops/varieties at awn emergence. Late PGR's all been applied around 10-14 days ago to crops that looked strong/not stressed. T2 fungicides now being applied. Disease levels generally remain low.

South West: Early varieties such as Carat are at 66% ear emerged. Winter barley generally looks good at the moment but some rain would help!

Eastern Counties: Crops at awn emergence. Second fungicide applications underway.

East Midlands: Awns emerging but crop height only about a foot or so on lighter soils which are suffering badly.

West Midlands: Ears out on Carat to awns emerging on rest of crops. Very light land crops are dying and pushing ears out also despite early nitrogen, remaining crops are in the main standing the dry conditions very well with no visible stress symptoms.

North East: Awns well emerged now in crops of Carat. Other varieties at GS39. No yellow or brown rust seen, but some of the major varieties such as Element, Cassata, Carat, Retriever and Sequel have low levels of resistance.

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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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