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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 05 October 2011 (for week beginning 26 September 2011)

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

: The hot dry spell has caused some crops of oilseed rape to wilt during the day. The lack of moisture is also causing delays in germination for both oilseed rape and winter wheat crops in all regions. First signs of Phoma seen in the oilseed rape in the east but not at treatable levels yet.

Blue mould: there is some concern that blue mould could become an problem with winter cereal seed sitting in dry seed beds. Dr Jane Thomas of NIAB writes that "blue mould can develop during prolonged dry periods and if these occur before germination has really got going, then with the seed just sitting in dry ground there could be emergence problems. To my knowledge, these are very rare, and re-drilling very unusual - if there is moisture somewhere then it shouldn't be an issue".

Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Phoma lesions.

South East: Crops range from cotyledon to 4 true leaves - bulk of crops are now around 2 true leaf but growing rapidly in current 'Indian' summer we are enjoying. Most advanced and vigorous crops are likely to need PGR application next week.

Flea beetle: shot holing of cotyledons quite widespread but true leaves mostly unaffected now.

Slugs: good seedbeds and dry soils have minimized problems to date.

Turnip sawfly: still no larvae seen as yet.

Phoma: none seen to date.

Eastern Counties: Most advanced crops at 6 to 8 leaves and completely covering the ground - some of these crops look too thick and forward and will need some growth regulation. Majority are 4 -6 leaves and well established. Rape re-drilled approximately 2 weeks ago on fine light seedbeds after the first drilling was lost to wind blow, emerged quickly and well and is at expanded cotyledon stage. Some poor areas with lower populations, smaller plants in a few fields on patches of heavier soil which lack moisture. Advanced crops wilting in the very warm and drying winds.

Flea beetle: damage only seen where untreated seed has been used.

Slugs: very few pellets applied. Just making a second application to the odd slow to establish patch where slugs have been active in open seedbeds.

Leaf miners: damage seen on earliest drilled fields. Not at a level to consider control measures.

Phoma: just the odd phoma spot seen - no action yet.

East Midlands: Forward crops at 5-6 leaves and looking well. Later crops at 2-3 leaves although some later ones at cotyledon to 2 leaf depending on dryness of soils. On the whole crops look well and probably better established than last year. One crop seen wilting slightly in the heat.

Flea beetle: only slight damage seen in one crop where no seed dressing.

Slugs: very little activity this season, excellent seedbeds. Just applying a second small dose to a few heavier patches where rape is struggling to establish amongst clods and where slugs can move in the soil easily.

Phoma: no sign of any as yet with crops looking very clean.

Weed control: good control of volunteers with low rate herbicide allowing rape to grow away, particularly in drier conditions - expect to see another flush when rains come.

West Midlands: Crops range from still to emerge through to 6 true leaf. The high expectations we had last week after the rain seem to have evaporated, just like the moisture did, and seed did not chit. We are still looking at somewhere in the region of 300 acres with no crop as yet. A lot of fields have patches where seed is still sitting in dry soil and unchitted whilst the rest of the field ranges from cotyledon to three true leaves. Crops visibly wilting in the current high day time temperatures.

Flea beetle: only slight damage so far.

Slugs: very little if any activity.

Phoma: no symptoms seen.

North East: Crops at 3 leaves are growing rapidly now, but later emerging crops are slow to develop beyond one true leaf in the dry conditions.

Flea beetle: some activity seen, but not damaging.

Slugs: no recent activity seen.

Phoma: none seen, but has been a long dry spell now.

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Winter Wheat

South East: Drilling of Claire and Scout got underway last week, with Solstice, Gallant and Cordiale being drilled this week. Xi19 and second wheats planned to be drilled next week. Aim is to sow most first wheats by end of September (except crops after Grain maize/potatoes etc). Farms growing second wheat Cordiale/Solstice with Latitude planning to finish drilling by 5-7th October. Moist soils and dry and the sunny days helping to produce generally good seedbeds, although heavier soils are plenty wet enough for cultivations and need leaving 24-48 hours after discing etc before drilling.

Leather jackets: some high larval levels being found in fields after long-term grass (3 years+).

Gout fly: eggs been found on few early emerged wheats at 1-2 leaf stage in last few days.

Slugs: trapping of fields after oilseed rape pre-/or post-drilling is indicating moderate levels of slugs with areas of volunteers almost totally cleared where stubbles have not been cultivated in last 3-4 weeks - however populations appear to be very low though on fields that have been disced/cultivated twice pre-drilling.

Eastern Counties: Early sown wheats generally at 2 to 3 leaves some now at first tiller. A lot are still to emerge. To drill or not to drill that is the question, and some have asked about drilling into dry and slightly cobbly seedbeds. The general feeling is, as long as you are drilling into reasonably fine tilth in the absence of any moisture, then the seed is in the right place for when it rains. There may be a need to increase seed rates if this dry spell continues as slow and patchy emergence followed by a cold snap could reduce tillering.

Gout fly: eggs been found on some plants.

East Midlands: First wheat just starting to emerge although dry weather is causing some slower emergence where cloddy and dry. Nearly all wheat now drilled into good seedbeds. Conditions good but dusty. Odd ploughed field coming up cloddy and difficult to break down but on the whole even ploughed fields giving good seedbeds.

Weed control: Pre ems going on but some concern about dry 'cap' on surface holding sprays and rain need to activate the sprays. There is a risk of grass weeds coming from depth and not getting hold of pre ems unless we get some rain. Also clients told not to spray in heat of day (not often say that in September!)

West Midlands: Crops range from GS 13 to sat in dust and going nowhere. Seed that has not chitted (some drilled 3 weeks ago) showing no signs of blue mould. Some crops have chitted but are now sat in dust, these are the worrying ones. Drilling continues apace with some probably drilled up by the end of this week (first wheats and second wheats). Seedbeds are very good albeit some being very dry (dust down as far as you can go). It has to be said that the minimum tillage guys are drilling into some kind of moisture.

Weed control: decided that we are going to spray first wheats that are up and have plenty of volunteer oilseed rape as well, otherwise wait and see.

North East: Some first wheats at GS 11. Crops sown first were drilled into moisture and are emerging evenly. More recently drilled are coming through in patches only where they have moisture and rest of the seed is at it was drilled. Seedbeds being prepared now are very dry. Ideally some should be left until after rain because power harrows are only re-arranging the clods. Generally despite the dryness most crops drilled so far have gone into excellent seedbeds and some decent rain soon will stimulate good emergence. Many farmers have finished drilling now.

Slugs: no evidence of slug activity seen in last few days.

Weed control: not much blackgrass has grown in most stale seedbeds, but what there is has been sprayed off before drilling. Seed rates are around 300 /m2 even for earliest drillings and a robust pre-emergence mix is being applied soon after drilling.

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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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