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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 05 October 2012 (for week beginning 01 October 2012)

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

04 October 2012: The wet weather has led to delays in sowing of winter wheat with some farms yet to start, most notably in the South and West. Other areas report between 45 - 60% of planned acreage now in the ground but very few of these crops have established. Winter oilseed rape sowings are complete but up to 50% of the crop has yet to reach two true leaves. Slug activity has taken off in the last week especially in fields following oilseed rape.

Slugs: high risk of damage to emerging wheat crops

Phoma: levels remain very low

Winter barley: most yet to be drilled

Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Sowing winter wheat

South East: Drilling progress has been very patchy or non-existent in the last two weeks, with many farms now around two weeks behind schedule due to very unsettled and wet conditions since around the 23rd September - for some heavier fields that have been cultivated to encourage a stale seedbed, soils are now very wet and unless we get several weeks of dry weather, a switch to spring wheat may be necessary. To date only around 30% of autumn sown wheat has been drilled - with some farms barely at 5% sown, while others have 75-80% drilled on lighter soils. Forecast for the next 2-3 days is for potentially another 50-75mm of rain, which could be terminal to autumn drilling hopes on heavier soils, unless we get a very dry November. Earliest sown wheats (Claire/Scout) are now at 1-1.5 leaves, but emergence is very slow this year due to wet and cool conditions Wet on any ground that has been moved - unmoved stubbles are still enabling cultivating and drilling on any drier days. Seedbeds to date have generally been good, but would anticipate some issues from now on if conditions allow for drilling on heavier soils. Seedbeds after oilseed rape ideally want rolling to help reduce slug pressure, but this has been impossible in the last two weeks - also an issue where pre-em sprays are planned.

Leatherjackets: some larval activity noted in fields after long-term grass.

Frit fly: none seen yet but will remain vigilant after short term leys and oats.

Slugs: slugs becoming highly active now in most fields after oilseed rape, and beginning to graze emerging/emerged plants. Also look to be active in stubbles of fields going into second wheat.

Weed control: one benefit of all this wet weather is that finally, stale seedbeds may actually deliver the goods in terms of attaining a useful flush of blackgrass, and delayed drilling should also reduce population pressure on herbicides now.

Eastern Counties: Busy drilling over the last few days but up until then only 45% of planned crop was in the ground. Very few crops have reached the two leaf stage. Varieties this year include Santiago, Relay, Horatio, JB Diego, Conqueror, KWS Solo, Oakley, Invicta, Tuxedo, Target, Torch, Claire, and Solstice.

Slugs: becoming very active and now at high risk especially following oilseed rape.

Weed control: blackgrass is beginning to emerge.

East Midlands: Busy drilling today (4 Oct) but only 45% of planned crop actually in the ground and of this hardly any has established. But remain hopeful that the crop will all be sown. Main wheat varieties are Santiago, JB Diego (acreage has increased this year) and Duxford with Grafton and Alchemy hanging in and some Claire and a bit of Warrior for seed.

Slugs: it's bad there are some very high counts on fields after oilseed rape - they are even eating the blackgrass!

Weed control: not as many pre-emergence applications on as hoped

West Midlands: Probably 50% of the planned crop now in the ground but it is very variable, some farms have all their first wheat sown. However, most other farms will probably not get any wheat drilling done until next week IF it stays dry! The most forward crops are at 1- 2 true leaf remainder at various stages of chitting/emerging. There is still a lot of surface water on some fields. Main varieties this year are Grafton, Humber, Invicta, JB Diego, Relay, Panorama, Oakley, Solstice, and Gallant.

Slugs: not disastrous as yet, in the main confined to very heavy clay caps/ very heavy areas within fields or seedbeds that are slightly cobbly.

Weed control: very difficult spraying conditions have hampered pre-emergence herbicide applications with only about 20% of sown crops treated.

North East: There has only been 8mm rainfall locally over the last 7 days but much higher levels have been recorded within 10 miles. So despite the catchy conditions drilling has continued at a pace. There will be about 90% of wheat after rape and peas sown, and maybe 50% of second and continuous wheats. Within this there is a large variation between farms with some finished and others just getting started. No crops are established. The most popular include Grafton, Viscount , Invicta, JB-Diego, Santiago, Oakley, Beluga and Scout.

Slugs: are easy to find in seedbeds following rape crops, but no seed damage been seen.

Weed control: the wet spell has enforced delayed drilling by a few days but it has not been long enough for a good blackgrass germination. Consequently some known problem fields have been sown as the risk of not getting 'sown up' is considered greater than that of poor grass weed control.

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Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Volunteer spring barley in oilseed rape.

South East: All planned crops have been drilled and have now emerged, with those that went into drier seedbeds (around 15-20% of crops) now at cotyledon to 1 true leaf - with remainder between 2-5 true leaves. Main varieties this year are ES Alienor, Vision, Ovation, Quartz and DK Expower.

Phoma: none seen to date.

Flea beetle: low levels of shot holing of cotyledons.

Slugs: no major problems so far. Metaldehyde pellets applied on rolls has prevented problems where anticipated, and no re-pelleting has been necessary to date.

Turnip sawfly: no larvae seen as yet.

Weed control: volunteer barley - large flush in min-tilled crops after spring barley in particular.

Eastern Counties: 100% crop drilled and 95% established. All the earlier drilled, especially on the lighter soil types, has good ground cover with 6 leaves plus. Some have established exceptionally well and now look too thick especially where volunteers have also emerged. At the other end of the spectrum the later drilled on heavier soils is only at 1-2 true leaf stage with some fresh cotyledon rape emerging following the re-wetting of seedbeds. Recent conditions have been very drying on the soil surface again. The crops that have not yet established are some re-drilling following earlier slug damage (patches only) and some late direct drilled rape which is struggling with trash and slugs. Varieties this year include Astrid, Cubic, Agatha, Camelot, Quartz, PR46W21, Compass, Vision, Marathon, and Sesame.

Phoma: only traces found to date.

Slugs: activity still seen and we are targeting vulnerable patches and late drilled fields. Pellets are disappearing rapidly. Many of our crops are past the vulnerable stage.

Weed control: beginning to see the odd poppy emerging on prone fields following pre-em herbicides. On early drilled fields polygonums, pansy, shepherd purse, fat hen now emerging but crop canopy will smother these small weeds. Some late drilled fields have not received any herbicide yet and although the rape is struggling weeds are beginning to appear chickweed, odd cleaver and charlock.

East Midlands: 95% of the planned crop is now in the ground and at least 65% of that is now established. The most forward crops are at the 5 leaf stage but there are not many of them. Main varieties are DK Cabernet, Compass, Vision, Sesame, in other words no real change from last year.

Slugs: plenty of slugs around and having to re-pellet.

Phoma: none seen.

Weed control: only a few crops have had a pre-emergence herbicide so far and with close rotation crops there are now limited options. Plenty of volunteer cereals to control.

West Midlands: 95% of planned drilling has now been completed the remainder will go into spring oats or spring oilseed rape as just too wet to do anything with. The most forward crops now approaching 6 true leaf (Troy, growing very well), but the bulk of crops are at cotyledon to 2 true leaf. Main varieties this year are Cubic, Troy, Thorin, Vision, PR46W21 some sesame and DK Cabernet.

Slugs: patching up small areas this week with slug pellets.

Weed control: hopefully get some post em sprays on this week where not pre emed, along with some fields which are desperate for getting graminicide on for volunteers.

North East: All rape has been sown. Many crops were slow to emerge as the seed didn't germinate until there was a significant rain. Early sown crops are well established at 3 true leaves, but the 50% drilled after wheat is only at expanded cotyledons stage.

Flea beetle: there has been some feeding where the seed is not dressed.

Slugs: 1.5% slug pellets are being applied at low rates that allow a sequence of treatments to provide longer periods of protection. Unless there is a rapid rise in slug numbers the crops should be OK now.

Phoma: none seen.

Weed control: many crops have severe beds of blackgrass in them now.

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Winter Barley

South East: Only around 10% of Winter barley has been drilled to date. Main Varieties being grown are Volume, KWS Cassia and Cassata.

Eastern Counties: About 5% of planned crop sown but none established.

East Midlands: Not much grown but most of it is now sown.

West Midlands: Very few crops sown as yet and none established.

North East: About 80% of the crop is drilled. They are just germinating so none are established yet.

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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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