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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 02 November 2012 (for week beginning 29 October 2012)

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

2 November 2012: A drier week for some has helped to catch up on some drilling and field work. However, for most this autumn is turning into a cropping nightmare, with delayed drilling and slow patchy emergence. Phoma levels in oilseed rape have not developed much over the last week and although it is present in crops in all regions very few are reporting the disease at threshold levels. Slugs continue to be the pest of the season.

Slugs: a continuing problem

Cropping plan changes: more spring crops on the cards

Phoma: at threshold in the South slowly increasing in all regions.

Winter barley: just emerging

Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Rapid increase in slug numbers threaten emerging wheat

South East: Another 20mm of rain Wednesday evening has put paid to any further drilling until at least next week now - until then the last week had been drier, with some drilling possible on lighter and drier fields - around another 5% of planned total area has been sown in this window. To date only around 70-75% of autumn sown wheat has been drilled - with some farms still barely at 10-20% sown, while others have 80%+ drilled on lighter soils. Earliest sown wheats (Claire/Scout) are now at GS13-21 - emergence and crop growth has been very slow this year due to combination of wet and cool conditions and low vigour in some seed. Still very wet on any ground that has been moved - unmoved stubbles are enabling ploughing, cultivating and drilling on any drier days. Some crops have been forced into wet seedbeds and there has to be some uncertainty as to their long term potential or even viability.

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

Slugs: still very high levels of slugs present in most fields after oilseed rape and are actively grazing emerging/emerged plants. Some areas/fields will need re-drilling where seedbeds were particularly poor after, despite applications of both metaldehyde and methiocarb pellets. Slugs also very 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.

South West: A challenging time with only about 30% of the planned acreage of wheat in the ground and doubts as to whether more than 25% of that will survive the winter. Any land heavier than the chalk downs is virtually anaerobic now. Crops are taking a long time to emerge and seed rotting in low lying or heavier parts of fields.

Slugs: plenty of them about and almost impossible to comply with the voluntary code of use for metaldehyde applications as soils are wet and the rain keeps falling.

Weed control: plenty of product stuck in the spray store.

Eastern Counties: 85% of drilling complete but there has not been much drilling completed in the last 10 days. Earliest sown crops are now beginning to tiller but most crops are between 1 and 2 leaf stage. Very wet over the last weekend and foggy/overcast days ever since means very little field work completed this week.

Aphids: counts have risen this week.

Slugs: quite a lot of grazing on all wheats regardless of position in rotation or variety. Light land not affected as much but still grazing occurring. Pellets going on where required. Gradually changing over to a ferric phosphate pellet.

Weed control: blackgrass now emerging to two leaf stage. Slow emergence of range of broad leaved weeds along with volunteer oilseed rape and beans.

East Midlands: Forward wheat now at 2 leaves but majority at 1 leaf or just emerging and many at chitting. Main comment is crops taking up to 3 weeks to emerge with some seed rotting in wet areas. Very little drilling done in the last week although a bit was done over the last few days. Many now resigned to ploughing and hoping for some dry weather so they can drill December/January.

Slugs: still causing damage to emerging crops and crops that have emerged.

Weed control: pre em herbicide spraying now at a standstill. On a plus side with late emergence no blackgrass seen emerged yet and nearly all soils now being ploughed anyway. Generally unless weather improves drastically in November it is hard to see any spraying done this side of Christmas as crops just emerging and little or no weeds yet so no pressure on getting sprays on.

West Midlands: A slightly drier week at last and some reasonable amount of sowing achieved. Some not too clever though on the heavier land. The most advance crops now at the two leaf stage and a few more beginning to poke through, but a lot chitted or sat in cold wet soils. Overall probably about 60% of planned crops now in the ground. Fields after potatoes are looking particularly rough and many might not get sown until the spring. There is some question that even then might be too soon.

Slugs: still causing a problem on some fields even after two applications of pellets. A combination of a plethora of the slimey little beggars and slow crop growth

Weed control: a bit more spraying off the list this week. Fortunately the low soil temperatures and wet conditions are also proving a challenge for the weeds to emerge.

North East: Despite the cold and wet conditions crops have grown well over the last 7 days. Earliest sown are well established at 2 - 3 leaves, and the most later sown are emerging evenly in east Yorkshire. 16mm of rain in last 7 days has kept fields very muddy, and there is a bit of standing water where badly compacted when 'forcing' some of the later seedbeds.

Slugs: Virtually all first wheats are dressed with Redigo Deter and have emerged well with little seed hollowing. Grazing on emerged crops is quite bad in some areas, and there is significant grain hollowing in some second wheats, especially where seedbeds are trashy and cloddy. Most second wheats have gone into colder , wetter ground. Emergence is slower, so the potential for slug damage is greater now.

Weed control: the pre-emergence herbicides have had plenty of moisture this year for them to work well. Most fields are clean so far, but there is Blackgrass emerging in some known problem areas. It's a matter of waiting now to see how big a challenge it will be for post-emergence treatments.

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Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Phoma developing more widely

South East: 100% of planned crop was drilled, with those that went into drier seedbeds (around 15-20% of crops) now at around 2 to 4 true leaves - with remainder between 3-8+ true leaves. Crops on lower lying, wetter fields look very poor and farms are already considering re-drilling these with Spring Rape next Spring (suspect that around 10-15% of crops may need re-drilling).

Phoma: around 50-70% of crops are now at 10% leaf spot thresholds with spraying now underway - no sign of any infection so far in more resistant varieties (eg DK Expower and Quartz).

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.

South West: Crops range from complete ground cover to small red and blue plants sitting in cold wet soil. Unfortunately most of the crops fall into this latter category. Expecting about 60% of the crops to make it through the winter.

Phoma: at low levels but not developing quickly and none at threshold yet.

Weed control: still waiting for crops to get big enough to apply propyzamide.

Eastern Counties: Most of the crops in north west Norfolk are on lighter soil types and are now well established with 7 to 8 leaves and good ground cover. Generally the plants are sitting close to the ground and stems have not begun to elongate, few crops will receive autumn growth regulation. However there are a few struggling crops on heavier soils drilled later, these continue to improve but the war against the slugs has been relentless. Still held off on any metazachlor application to some direct drilled rape ( unlikely to receive this now) . Will need to see how these crops progress during November before committing to Kerb. Some crops are showing uneven growth due to wheelings made during drilling and the tramlines from the previous crop are apparent on some min tilled fields. Many headlands are waterlogged and very poor.

Phoma: easier to find on most crops, but only approaching threshold levels on some.

Slugs: still applying to some poor patches in fields and the direct drilled crop. Great difficulty getting hold of supplies and have had to use poorer quality pellets in places. Have reached metaldehyde limit on some fields trying to get hold of ferric phosphate. Fortunately few rape crops still need protection.

Pigeons: have started to graze on thin areas relatively early. Small groups are descending on fields especially near to woods and poor headlands.

Beet cyst nematodes: have been further investigating this field with Broom's Barn. Beet cyst nematode cysts can easily be found in the poor areas (the areas affected are limited to patches covering less than 5% of the field). Affected plants have a stunted root system with the tap root affected at about 2cm and lots of 'bearding'. The plant population is thin in these areas and plants are being 'rocked' out of the soil in the windy and wet conditions on the light sandy soil.

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 slow growth with forward crops at 3-5 leaves but a lot of crops at 1-2 leaves and struggling with cold wet soils and slugs.

Slugs: still causing problems even in crops at 3 leaves.

Phoma: can be found in some crops at low levels but all crops destined to get fungicide in early November as weather permits

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

Weed control: weather continues to delay sprays and some crops still awaiting application.

West Midlands: Fields have definitely greened up this last week, with the partially drier weather but most importantly noticeably warmer conditions. Most crops now have at least 1-2 true leaves and forward crops are nearly at 80% ground cover.

Phoma: low levels on forward crops but still nowhere at threshold yet.

Slugs: low level damage still occurring in these relatively mild and wet conditions.

Pigeons: some quite large flocks coming into crops - where the plants are still small it won't take much grazing to do a lot of damage.

Weed control: still some crops that have yet to receive any herbicide. Charlock getting quite big in some fields.

North East: Despite some renewed slug activity crops are growing better now. The early sown after winter barley are at 8 - 10 leaves now, and most crops after wheat are 3 - 5 leaves but with some areas of smaller plants.

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

Slugs: have continued to damage cloddy areas in fields. Pellets continue to be applied, but even using 1.5 % pellets some crops have had the Autumn limit of metaldehyde now.

Phoma: very low levels of infection seen so far in all varieties.

Weed control: many crops have severe beds of blackgrass in them now, and it is growing very quickly.

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Winter Barley

image from FoL

Plough and drill combination.

South East: Around 90-95% of planned Winter barley has now been drilled - mostly by those with plough and drill combinations. Rest will now go into spring barley. Most advanced crops are at GS13-21 now. Very wet again - no further drilling planned, as yield penalties likely to be too high now.

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

East Midlands: Crops now mainly at the one leaf stage.

West Midlands: Approx 50% in now, most forward at start of tillering, others just emerging. Will call a halt to any more sowing and switch to wheat. Winter barley yields plummet when sown in late November.

North East: All winter barley has emerged now, and most crops range from GS11 to 21. A few areas being grazed by slugs now.

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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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