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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 12 October 2012 (for week beginning 08 October 2012)

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

11 October 2012: Winter wheat sowing progress has been slow in many areas over the last week putting us even further behind. We could do with a month of dry weather to catch up on all the field work, but the long range forecasts doesn't offer much solace. Slugs are still active especially in fields following oilseed rape. First sightings of Phoma in oilseed rape crops in the Eastern counties and West Midlands.

Slugs: high risk of damage to emerging wheat crops

Phoma: first sightings

Winter barley: most yet to be drilled

Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Rain brings further delays to drilling

South East: Drilling progress remains patchy to non-existent again in the last week, with drilling only possible on lighter soils and where farms still have a plough and drill combination! Many farms are now around 2-3 weeks behind schedule due to very unsettled and wet conditions since around the 23rd September - 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 40% of autumn sown wheat has been drilled - with some farms still barely at 5% sown, while others have 75-80% drilled on lighter soils. Forecast for the next 7 days is again looking very unsettled with another 40-50mm of rain predicted, which would probably be terminal to any autumn drilling hopes on heavier soils - we have now had around 4.5 inches of rain since the end of September. Earliest sown wheats (Claire/Scout) are now at 1-3 leaves - but emergence remains very slow this year due to wet and cool conditions and low vigour in some seed.

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. One 80 acre block of winter wheat drilled into an open cloddy seedbed after oilseed rape which now requires re-drilling due to extensive slug damage. Slugs 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 has yet to emerge but pre-emergence treatments either applied or planned.

East Midlands: Wheat sown to date stands at around 30% with hardly any crops emerging. Most that are drilled just starting to chit. Commercial seed quality not great with some bought seed with TGW of 35 i.e. no better than farm saved seed. Some clients dressing seed as and when depending on drilling opportunities and possibly some acreage will not get drilled and will be spring cropped. Soil very wet with some very wet patches and localised ponding. Probably as wet as I have seen fields at this time of year, and more heavy rain forecast will delay drilling further. 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: some very high counts on fields after oilseed rape.

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

West Midlands: Rain again today has put everything on hold once more. Very little sowing achieved over the last 7 days and not looking too hopeful for the next week either. The most forward crops are at 1- 2 true leaf remainder that have been sown are at various stages of chitting/emerging. Some farms on heavier land have yet to start drilling. Main varieties this year are Grafton, Humber, Invicta, JB Diego, Relay, Panorama, Oakley, Solstice, and Gallant.

Slugs: variable problems, wheat that went in just before the heavy rain and was not rolled nor pelleted (pellets went on a week later when they could travel ) not looking too clever with plenty of hollowing and grazing.

Weed control: getting to the point where we need to get fields sprayed sooner rather than later BUT not many can travel as yet!

North East: Earliest sown crops are fully emerged but only at GS11. Most crops are at germination to peri-emergence. Only some crops following potatoes or spring beans have still to be sown, so most growers have finished their drilling program now. Locally there has been only 5 mm. of rain over the last 7 days and most days have been dry and sunny. Most seedbeds are very good, but a few were worked too fine earlier for the stale seedbed and are slow to dry out. They have been drilled but are more compacted than ideal. All pre-emergence sprays have been applied to good seedbeds with plenty of moisture. 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. 1.5% pellets have been applied to all 1st wheats soon after drilling. No damage has been seen yet.

Weed control: only a few stale seedbeds have had a decent growth of blackgrass that was sprayed off before drilling. It is hoped that the good conditions for the pre-emergence sprays allow them to do a good job and take out a high percentage of the grass that is certain to germinate over the next few weeks. No Blackgrass emergence has been seen yet in the earliest sown fields.

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Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Volunteer spring barley in oilseed rape

South East: 100% of planned oilseed rape was drilled and all crops now emerged, with those that went into drier seedbeds (around 15-20% of crops) now at around 1-2 true leaves - with remainder between 3-6 true leaves.. Main varieties this year are ES Alienor, Vision, Ovation, Quartz and DK Expower.

Phoma: none seen to date, even on volunteers in nearby rape stubbles - Phoma spotting predicted to start showing from around 20-24th October here in the South.

Flea beetle: low levels of shot holing of cotyledons.

Slugs: good seedbeds and earlier dry soils have minimised problems to date this autumn in most cases - only problem fields have been those with cloddier seedbeds that have required re-treating, in some cases.

Turnip sawfly: no larvae seen as yet.

Weed control: high levels of blackgrass emerging now in fields where control was poor in the preceding cereal crop.

Eastern Counties: August drilled rape is excellent with very good ground cover and establishment. However, the later drilled crops towards the end of the first week in September are slow to establish but most now have sufficient rape of 2 true leaf stage plus. Rain 10 days - 2 weeks ago has brought up a fresh flush of rape where seedbeds were dry these new seedlings are expanded cotyledon stage. We now have a crop on most fields except for some late re-drilling in patches where slugs were very active. Some areas of partridge, pheasant and rabbit grazing, mainly restricted to field margins.. Varieties this year include Astrid, Cubic, Agatha, Camelot, Quartz, PR46W21, Compass, Vision, Marathon, and Sesame.

Phoma: just the odd spot of phoma seen this week. Nowhere near threshold levels yet.

Slugs: still continuing to target some vulnerable patches but most rape is past the vulnerable stage.

Weed control: beginning to see the odd poppy emerging on prone fields. 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: A really mixed bag. About 80% of crop established and showing but big variation in growth stages with odd forward crop at 3-4 leaves, some at 2 leaf and vast majority at cotyledon to 1 leaf. Growth is painfully slow and hard to see my rule of thumb of 5 leaves by bonfire night. Estimate that of the rape established probably 10-20% will not survive to spring. Some rape drilling abandoned in favour of oats. Main varieties are DK Cabernet, Compass, Vision, Sesame in other words no real change from last year.

Slugs: what can you say - many rape crops being hit hard and generally pelleting has let crops establish but some crops have been wiped out even after slug pellets by sheer numbers of slugs and will be spring cropped. Damage still occurring even where crops have 2-3 leaves.

Phoma: none seen.

Pigeons: A few small flocks are moving into rape crops which is not good news this early.

Weed control: blackgrass emerging in great numbers now.

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.

Phoma: first lesions seen this week on Quartz.

Slugs: more damage occurring in these relatively mild and wet conditions. But generally very few problems with the rape and most of it will probably be OK from now on.

Pigeons: some damage already occurring.

Weed control: crops sprayed just before the torrential rain seem to be OK but growth has been affected with a percentage of plants having a blue tinge to the cotyledons. Charlock getting quite big in some fields.

North East: There is a wide range of growth stages because drilling was over a long period. Earliest sown crops are at 3 -5 true leaf now and well established, and the later sown range from expanded cotyledons to 3 true leaf.

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

Slugs: all areas have filled in now and if no further damage occurs they should be well established in another 7-10 days.

Phoma: despite what are considered ideal conditions for Phoma infection, none has been seen so far.

Weed control: many crops have severe beds of blackgrass in them now. Where necessary herbicide is being applied when blackgrass is at 1-2 leaves.

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Winter Barley

South East: Still only around 10-20% of Winter barley has been drilled to date.

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

East Midlands: Just a few fields drilled and in some cases barley drilling has now been abandoned in favour of second wheat.

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

North East: All the winter barley is drilled now, and most is fully emerged at GS11.

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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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