: Reports of fresh hatches of slugs are common and damage to recently sown or emerging crops is evident particularly in wheat crops following oilseed rape. These pests are being favoured by the continued wet soils and lack of frosts. Crop growth is still slow and wheat crops are taking three to four weeks to emerge. Sowing on lighter land has been possible but heavy land is still too wet. Oilseed rape crops still don't look brilliant and are still at risk of damage from slugs, whilst pigeons are becoming more numerous
Slugs: new hatches causing problems.
Blackgrass: needs controlling.
Phoma: slow to develop but increasing in all regions.
Winter barley: watch out for Rhyncosporium.
New hatch of slugs causing concern (picture courtesy Farming Online).
South East: Nearly a dry 10 days with only 8-10mm of rain recorded but unfortunately without much sun or wind that is all it takes to put paid to drilling on heavier fields. However, there has been some ploughing and drilling completed on lighter, better drained fields, and after recently harvested maize crops. Around another 5-10% of planned total area should hopefully have been drilled over the last 7-10 days. To date around 80-85% of autumn sown wheat has now been drilled ? with some farms still barely at 30-40% sown, while others are now 90-100% drilled. September sown wheats (Claire/Scout) are now at GS21+, otherwise most emerged crops are at around GS11-13 ? emergence and crop growth has been very slow this year.
Slugs: still very high levels of slugs present in fields after oilseed rape. Earlier sown crops beginning to grow away from slug grazing now having had a week of much milder weather, however later sown crops on heavier and stonier soils are still at high risk of damage.
Weed control: blackgrass has emerged.
Eastern Counties: This week has been fairly productive as in the last 10 days we have had some sun and relatively little rain. Earliest crops now at GS21, first tiller and most crops now at the three to four leaf stage GS13-21. Some late drilling after beet has been done and 85% of drilling complete. Crops remain free of disease.
Slugs: still active with 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.
Weed control: blackgrass now at two to three leaf stage. Volunteer rape, beans and Cranesbill only just emerging.
East Midlands: Forward wheat remains at 2 leaves with many crops drilled in last 3-4 weeks either just chitting or just emerging with development painfully slow. Where soils lay wet some seed is rotting. Any drilling done now is at high seed rates with 200 kg/ha not uncommon on heavier wet soils. However, many on heavy soils are shutting gate now and hoping for some dry weather to be able to drill in January. Rooks and pigeons attacking fields as they are drilled.
Slugs: continue to present a challenge, especially as growth is too slow for crops to grow away from damage. Eggs and fresh hatches continually found.
Weed control: very few pre-emergent herbicides on but blackgrass emergence similar to wheat ? very slow.
West Midlands: Drilling has continued on the lighter soils, we are at the point with the heavier ground that it will not go in as still unable to plough it. The most forward crops now at early tillering and a few more of the later sown crops now emerging. In general it is taking around 21 day for crops to emerge and once up growth is slow. Ground conditions are definitely improving, fields are actually draining as well as drying on the top.
Slugs: more damage seen again this week with a flush of juvenile slugs obvious in previously treated fields. Wheat after oilseed rape drilled late last week already had hollowing damage by Saturday.
Weed control: a bit more spraying off the list this week. Still not a great flush of weeds amongst recently emerged crops.
North East: Its been a mild week and established crops have reached GS21. Later sown crops have mostly emerged well and range from GS11-13. Only 5mm rain locally (East Yorkshire) and most fields have dried well allowing spraying to continue where the pre-emergence timing was missed. Fields that were worked and drilled when too wet are holding water in the seedbed and are very soft now. These will not travel, germination percentage is poor and emergence is very slow.
Slugs: milder weather is encouraging slug activity but only a few areas have needed further pelleting. There are instances of slugs hatching in massive numbers and the tiny slugs are difficult to kill, and can prevent crops emerging as they graze the coleoptiles.
Weed control: there are fields with very dense patches of blackgrass coming through that need controlling very soon.
Winter Oilseed Rape
Phoma on small plants needs controlling (picture courtesy Farming Online)..
South East: Very little change on last week with crops ranging from 2 to 8+ true leaves. Crops on lower lying, wetter fields still look very poor and may need re-drilling with spring rape.
Phoma: around 50-70% of crops are now at 10% leaf spot thresholds with spraying underway/completed, still no sign of any infection in more resistant varieties (eg DK Expower and Quartz) and in general levels of leaf spotting are some of the lowest seen for 2-3 years.
Slugs: only problem fields have been those with cloddier seedbeds that have required re-treating.
Pigeons: already beginning to graze the more backward and open crops quite hard.
Weed control: high levels of blackgrass and bromes emerging in fields.
Eastern Counties: Still seeing a little growth in crops but the wet headlands and compacted areas including old tramlines, wheelings etc. have become more and more apparent. It looks as if a few very backward crops will be lost to the continued slug and increasing pigeon pressure. Establishment was poor and slowly more plants are disappearing while the weed burden increases.
Phoma: only a few farms with lighter soil types have managed to make Phoma applications so far, on the majority it is still outstanding.
Slugs: are still grazing even on well established crops with large plants. Although they are unlikely to further affect final establishment on these crops they are causing a lot of leaf holing.
Pigeons: are really laying into the backward crops and thin or poor patches on forward fields.
Weed control: lots of charlock emerging in some fields.
East Midlands: Some backward crops at 2 leaves. Forward crops at 4-5 leaves (but very few). Most at 2-3 leaves with some crops at 1-2 leaves and again growth is painfully slow with crops almost at a standstill.
Slugs: damage continues with crops at 3 leaves getting some severe grazing.
Phoma: levels remain static and relatively low and Phoma sprays destined to go on when conditions allow.
Pigeons: starting to flock and some large flocks seen on rape which is not good given the small plants. Some snow to cover crops would be welcome.
Weed control: some evidence of poor weed control from early post emergent herbicides.
West Midlands: A little more growth over the week means most crops now have at least 3-4 true leaves and forward crops are nearly at 80% ground cover. However, there are still some very tender crops around which won't last through a hard winter.
Phoma: more noticeable in crops but rarely at threshold levels. However, small plants are at higher risk of leaf infection spreading to stems.
Slugs: still active and doing damage.
Pigeons: starting to come in and small crops will need 100% attention otherwise they will never make it through to the spring.
Weed control: charlock getting quite big in some fields.
North East: Crops range from very few plants established to dense crops with 8-10 leaves. The majority are established now and have 3?5 leaves, but some have a high percentage of very small plants at 3 leaves.
Flea Beetle: there has been some feeding where the seed is not dressed.
Slugs: have continued to damage cloddy areas in fields.
Phoma: hardly any lesions seen, despite the continuous rainfall.
Weed control: many crops have severe beds of blackgrass in them now, and it is growing very quickly.
Plough and drill combination (photo courtesy Farming Online).
South East: Around 90-95% of planned Winter barley has been drilled ? mostly by those with plough and drill combinations. Rest will now go into spring barley. Most advanced crops are at around GS13-21+
Eastern Counties: Earliest drilled crops have a tiller. Some are only at 1 leaf. Seen quite a bit of death from flooding damage this year because of the rain.
East Midlands: Most crops at 2 leaves and slow development.
West Midlands: Most forward at start of tillering, others are still only just emerging.
North East: All winter barley has emerged and most crops range from GS11 to 21. A few areas being grazed by slugs now.