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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 21 October 2011 (for week beginning 17 October 2011)

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

21 October 2011: Lack of rain now causing a lot of concern in central and eastern counties of England. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology is warning that unless there is substantial rainfall in the coming months crops in these areas will be short of water going into the spring. Dry conditions have kept Phoma at bay with still no crops reported as being any where near threshold levels of infection.

Headlines: * Phoma levels still very low. * Powdery mildew on oilseed rape. * Some advanced crops of oilseed rape will need a growth regulator fungicide. * Slug damage remains rare. * Mildew developing in some winter barley crops and the occasional early sown wheat. * Brown rust found in eastern counties on some wheat and barley.

Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

image from FoL

Leaf miner damage in oilseed rape

South East: Crops range from 3-4 leaves to 8+ true leaves with majority of crops now at the 4-5 true leaf stage. All have grown rapidly in the sustained recent 'Indian' Summer-like weather we enjoyed recently.

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.

Phoma: A few Phoma spots can be found in August drilled crops of Vision and Cabernet, though only at around 2% infection level.

Eastern Counties: Growth rate has now been phenomenal and we have many crops completely covering the ground and well advanced for the time of year. Crops are smothering any weed in the bottom, although charlock is in flower and poking up above the crop. Even the re-drilled crops are at the 5 leaf stage. Have applied growth regulator to some crops.

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

Slugs: Activity extremely low most crops are now well past the vulnerable stage.

Powdery mildew: Seen fairly extensively in early drilled forward crops.

Phoma: Continues to be difficult to find there is a little in west of region but absent in north and central Norfolk. Planning one timely fungicide when phoma does arrive - helps to keep canopy green and enhance winter hardiness.

Weed control: Very little blackgrass emerged in current dry conditions.

East Midlands: Crops growing rapidly now roots down to moisture with some crops at 6-8 leaves and average crops at 5 leaves+. Odd backward crop struggling in dry conditions with roots in dry soil. One or two forward crops will receive a growth regulator.

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

Slugs: Crops out of danger of any damage now.

Phoma: No sign of any as yet.

Leaf miner: Generally at low levels but odd crop has high infestation. Experience shows crops recover well over winter as older damaged leaves die back with frost.

Weed control: Some patchy blackgrass starting to grow now. Dry conditions means plants generally small with root in top 2 inches.

West Midlands: Continuing dry conditions have kept most crops in check. Crops range from still not chitted to 6 true leaf. There are still a lot of crops with small plants which have failed to develop due to the drought. Irrigated crops responding quickly to an inch of water.

Flea beetle: Quite bad on late germinating/thin crops.

Slugs: Still none seen

Leaf miner: Damage quite severe in some areas.

Phoma: No sign of disease yet even on forward crops.

North East: The bigger crops continue to grow very rapidly and many have at least 7 leaves now. The later sown crops are established now, and have also grown significantly over last 7 days. All crops are well suited for going into the winter now.

Flea beetle: Some activity seen, but not damaging.

Phoma: The heavy rain 2 weeks ago suggested there should be significant signs of infection by now, but there is still virtually none to be found.

Weed control: More grass weeds have come through in many fields now.

Slugs: No more activity seen in last 7 days despite the rain making much better conditions for slug activity.

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Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Brown rust seen in early sown Claire

South East: Apart from a few fields after vegetables/grain maize, drilling of first and second wheat on most farms has now been completed. Earliest sown wheats now at GS 13-21, though bulk of crops are emerging to 1.5 leaves. Moist soils and dry sunny days helping to produce generally good seedbeds, however heavier areas have baked out in places, resulting in differential and patchy emergence, with some seed yet to chit. A decent rain is urgently needed now.

Gout fly: Very little evidence of new egg laying despite warm weather.

Slugs: Some slug activity after oilseed rape but still rare.

Weed control: Blackgrass starting to emerge with crop in some fields now with no notable rain since pre-emergence herbicides applied - anticipate a much reduced contribution to blackgrass control than in last two autumns (perhaps down to 40%).

Eastern Counties: Very early sown wheats generally have 1-2 tillers. Majority of wheats are between 2 & 4 leaves. Some patchy emergence but seed now chitted under clods so will catch up soon.

Brown rust: First signs of disease on early sown Claire.

Powdery mildew: Beginning to develop on early sown Claire and Solstice.

Slugs: Still only very low levels.

Aphids: No increase on last week.

Weed control: Blackgrass now at 3 leaves to beginning of tillering.

East Midlands: Big variations with some crops at 2-3 leaf but a lot of crop showing patchy emergence with large patches of bare ground in some fields. Many fields with some wheat at 2-3 leaves and remainder at GS 10/11. Some areas remain very dry although parts have caught showers which has helped. Soil conditions on the whole remain good for drilling

Slugs: Almost no damage - even oilseed rape volunteers remain untouched.

Gout fly: Just the odd plant with eggs but nothing to warrant any spraying.

Weed control: Dry soils holding back blackgrass emergence. Volunteer beans very thick in some crops and will need hitting soon, but in some cases vigorous volunteer beans emerging with patchy crop growth.

West Midlands: Still a very mixed picture of crop emergence. Min-tilled crops have established better than ploughed but the lack of rain in some areas is delaying emergence to the extent that some crops sown a month ago have still to appear.

Blue mould: Still not a major issue but there is a lot of wheat with small shoot chits or root chits, guess if we do not get an inch very very soon then blue mould issues may well become a major issue.

Gout fly: No further increase in numbers of eggs, but it has been pretty windy of late.

Slugs: Found one!

Aphids: Obvious in crops at the two to three leaf stage.

Mildew: Early sown Solstice is carrying quite a lot of mildew.

Weed control: Only spraying pre-emergence herbicides where we know we have a crop or where those that have been lucky enough to have 15-25mm of rain and moisture down to the seed.

North East: Some seed just germinating, some at peri-emergence, some at GS13-21, and that?s just one field. Generally, early sown crops are GS 21 -22, and the later sown are still very patchy. The recent rainfall though has allowed good germination and full crop emergence can be expected over the next 7 days. It was pretty sticky for a couple of days after 26mm rainfall, but the surface soon dried and field conditions are excellent now.

Slugs: No significant slug activity found despite the wetter conditions now, except on a patch of heavy land after oilseed rape where the wheat has not emerged yet. No grazing on emerged crops been seen.

Aphids: None seen so far on wheat but have been found on barley.

Weed control: In some known problem fields there is a lot of Blackgrass at 2-3 leaves now. So far there is very little coming through in the later sown crops.

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Winter Barley

South East: Winter barley drilling all completed now, with earlier sown crops now at 2-leaf stage. Blackgrass emergence noted in earliest drilled crops at 1-2 leaf stage. Desperately need enough rain to properly activate residuals otherwise is likely to be some poor blackgrass control.

Eastern Counties: Crops range from two to four leaves. Mildew developing in forward crops of Cassata and Cassia, Brown rust seen on Carat.

East Midlands: Crops moving quickly now at 2-3 leaves. Again some heavier fields with patchy emergence. Low levels of mildew found on Cassia - not a problem yet but a sign of things to come if weather remains mild.

West Midlands: Earliest sown crops now at two leaves. Mildew appearing in some crops of Cassia.

North East: Crops are evening up rapidly after the recent rain. Most forward are at GS13-21, but with areas that are just emerging. Low levels of mildew seen on some Cassia. Aphids found in the last seven days.

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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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