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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 19 October 2012 (for week beginning 15 October 2012)

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

19 October 2012: Winter wheat sowing progress continues at a snail's pace although that is probably not a good analogy considering the damage they are doing in some fields. The forecast for a drier week could see many if not all get back on track. Slugs are still active. More sightings of Phoma in oilseed rape crops in the Eastern counties, Midlands and South.

Slugs: risk of damage to emerging wheat crops

Cropping plan changes: more spring crops on the cards

Phoma: more sightings but not at threshold levels yet

Winter barley: just emerging

Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Rapid increase in slug numbers threaten emerging wheat

South East: After another wet week with around 75mm of rain, drilling progress has again been very sporadic and only possible on lighter soils or where farms still have a plough and drill combination. Many farms remain 2-3 weeks behind schedule due to the very unsettled and wet conditions since around the 23rd September (6-8 inches of rain now. All heavier land that has been cultivated to encourage a stale seedbed, is now very wet so unless we get several weeks of dry weather, a switch to spring wheat is looking increasingly likely. To date only around 50-60% 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 looking potentially more settled, so lets hope November turns out to be mild and dry! Earliest sown wheats (Claire/Scout) are now at 1-3 leaves - but emergence and crop growth remains very slow this year due to ongoing wet and cool conditions plus low vigour in some seed.

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

Slugs: slugs highly active now in most fields after oilseed rape and beginning to graze emerging/emerged plants. Some areas/fields will need re-drilling where seedbeds were particularly poor after oilseed rape, despite applications of both metaldehyde and methiocarb pellets. Seedbeds after oilseed rape in particular want rolling to help reduce slug pressure, but this has been virtually impossible in the last two weeks.

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: Up to 85% of planned crop is now in the ground, but the cold wet conditions means nothing is moving except the slugs. However, after oilseed rape, where fields are rolled, following insecticide seed treatment and with just one pass of mini-pellets, crops are emerging relatively unscathed. Very few crops have reached the two - three leaf stage. Varieties this year include Santiago, Relay, Horatio, JB Diego, Conqueror, KWS Solo, Oakley, Invicta, Tuxedo, Target, Torch, Claire, and Solstice.

Slugs: still very active, traps have anything from no slugs to over 30. Snails also becoming a problem.

Weed control: blackgrass has yet to emerge but pre-emergence treatments either applied or planned.

East Midlands: Progress still painfully slow with only a few more fields drilled as soils continually wet up. Some doubt now over wheat after maize and this is forcing fields destined for maize into second or third wheat with this years maize fields requiring winter ploughing and renovation for a second maize crop next year. A few crops now emerging at 1-2 leaves but majority just chitting.. Soils now not just wet but sodden with frequent ponding and standing water. 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: emerging crops showing some signs of slug shredding at low levels and pellets going on as crops emerge after rape.

Weed control: some pre ems yet to go on for blackgrass control.

West Midlands: Very little sowing achieved over the last 7 days and estimate about 30% of planned crop now in the ground. Farms on lighter land are much further ahead with their drilling with farms to the west of the Severn further behind. A dry month would be nice, failing that we could be looking at more spring crops than usual. 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: The majority of the wheat after rape is OK with one application of pellets doing the trick in most cases. However, oilseed rape stubbles are alive with slugs which may pose a challenge to the impending wheat crop.

Weed control: need to get pre/post ems on many fields sooner rather than later.

North East: Earliest sown crops are fully emerged but only at GS11, and a lot of crops emerging now in east Yorkshire. Generally, emergence is good and even. Another 13mm of rain over the last 7 days has been OK for spraying between showers, but drilling is becoming more difficult as soils become wetter and less manageable.

Slugs: virtually all first wheats are dressed with insecticide seed treatment and are emerging well with little seed hollowing. Grazing on emerged crops is quite bad in some areas. All crops following oilseed rape have had an application of 1.5% pellets, and a further application is planned where crops are being grazed. Some second wheats have been drilled into wet, cloddy seedbeds, and significant seed hollowing can be found so they are being pelleted soon as conditions allow.

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

Phoma developing more widely.

South East: 100% of planned crop 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. Crops on lower lying and wetter fields look very poor, suspect that around 10-15% of crops may need re-drilling with spring oilseed rape.

Phoma: first few leaf spots just beginning to show today (18th Oct) in a range of varieties - Phoma spotting was predicted to start showing at threshold levels from around 20-24th October here in the South (so pretty accurate forecasting!)

Slugs: only problem fields have been those with cloddier seedbeds that have required re-treating.

Aphids: low levels of winged Myzus Persicae being found in earlier sown crops.

Weed control: high levels of blackgrass and bromes emerging in fields.

Eastern Counties: This crop has continued to grow over last week with the most forward fields now at almost complete ground cover and look too thick! These forward crops now have 7 to 8 leaves. At the other extreme are direct drilled crops struggling to establish at the cotyledon stage, we have not applied herbicide yet to some of the late emerging fields as we want to leave our options open if there is a crop failure - we haven't given up on them yet. There is a second flush of rape emerged in some fields which were dry in places immediately after drilling.

Phoma: now appearing not yet reached threshold levels.

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

Beet cyst nematodes: a poor area of rape with plants with stunted tap roots and a proliferation of fibrous roots ('bearding') on a light soil in a field which has been in a rotation of beet/barley/rape/barley/ has been diagnosed as having BCN (beet cyst nematodes). The patches correspond to areas in the previous beet crop which suffered with BCN. We are awaiting further investigation but these rotations on light soils with beet and rape are a worry as far as build -up of BCN is concerned.

Weed control: charlock has emerged in large numbers on a few fields. Volunteer wheat has continued to emerge on some min-tilled fields.

East Midlands: Some improvement in growth this week but many crops still at 1 leaf with some at 1-2 leaves and need some good weather to get them into winter. Continued rain does not help as small roots sit in wet soil.

Slugs: continue to dominate but battle being won to some extent but vigilance is required and many crops have had a second low rate dose of pellets.

Phoma: a few lesions seen on some crops and reported by others but not at 10% yet.

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

Weed control: concern over slow growth of crops and backward crops when a herbicide will need to go on soon.

West Midlands: The most forward crops now approaching 6 true leaf, but the bulk of crops are at cotyledon to 2 true leaf. Crops have grown a bit over the last week but they are still very vulnerable to attack from pest mainly because the plants are small. Partridge, pheasants and rabbits all having more than their fair share. Quite a few crops written off over the last fortnight from pest damage. Main varieties this year are Cubic, Troy, Thorin, Vision, PR46W21 some sesame and DK Cabernet.

Phoma: starting to find it quite easily on forward crops BUT nowhere near threshold as yet.

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.

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.

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: still no signs.

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

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Winter Barley

image from FoL

Plough and drill combination.

South East: Around 50% of planned Winter barley has now been drilled - mostly by those with plough and drill combinations. Slugs beginning to graze on any emerged crop.

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. None emerged yet.

West Midlands: About 25% of the crop now sown with the most forward at 1 true leaf. One bad case of slugs on heavy soil as crop was coming through had to treat very rapidly.

North East: All the winter barley is drilled now, and most is fully emerged at GS11-12. Most of the Volume was drilled later and is just germinating.

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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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