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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 04 March 2013 (for week beginning 25 February 2013)

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

1st March 2013: The dry period has helped catch up on some very late sowings of winter wheat over the last week. Established crops of wheat are looking quite blue from the frosts and cold winds but in the main have survived the winter. Oilseed rape crops are just starting to show some new growth but extensive pigeon damage has reduced many crops to leafless stubs, the jury is still out as to whether these will make a crop. Light leaf spot is present in the south and east. First doses of nitrogen + sulphur are going on now to oilseed rape crops, winter barley and backward wheat crops. Spring barley sowing has started and it is advisable to check the thousand grain weight as these range from a miserable 32 to a respectable 48. There are some reports of poor germination results on spring barley samples.

Nitrogen+Sulphur: for winter oilseed rape

First N+S: for winter barley and second wheat crops

Blackgrass: needs controlling

Phoma: still present where no autumn fungicides applied

Light Leaf Spot: First signs

Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Septoria on lower leaves of winter wheat (courtesy Farming Online).

South East: A largely dry 10-14 days has been a welcome boost from the seemingly inexorable periods of either rain (and snow at times) throughout autumn and winter. However, a biting easterly wind has really taken its toll on the appearance of many crops, with later sown and backward wheats in particular seemingly withering and turning a rather sickly brow/purple hue. Crops really do need some milder days and nights now and dare we say it, some rain to activate recently applied N. There has even been some further winter wheat drilling completed in the last few days - Xi19 or Claire, both of which have low vernalisation requirements. September sown wheats (Claire/Scout) are now at GS22-23+, otherwise most emerged crops are still at around GS13-21 - they really have hardly moved in the last 6 weeks. Most soils beginning to dry rapidly at the surface now, but are still wet patches in low lying areas - viability of some later sown crops on heavier or badly slumped soils remains in question until some new growth is evident.

Slugs: still some activity noted in some crops, due mainly to Arion species, but most crops have now finally grown away from their attention.

Blackgrass: due to lack of residuals applied to most fields last autumn, many fields have a level of blackgrass evident ranging from three leaf stage in November sown wheats to tillering in September/early October sown crops.

Eastern Counties: Crops vary from 1 leaf to 3 or 4 tillers. Soil mineral nitrogen results suggest that levels of N in the soil are not significantly below average levels despite the rain.

Septoria tritici: trace levels on lower leaves.

Slugs: cold weather has brought an end to activity so far.

Weed control: grass weeds now tillering where they haven't been controlled by autumn applications, this includes blackgrass, ryegrass, meadow grass and bromes.

East Midlands: Crops seem to be going backward with no growth in last two weeks and looking stressed and blue. Some late drilling in the last week. Fields continue to dry well although some wet patches and ponded corners remain. Soil temperatures to date still only at 1-2 deg C.

Slugs: continue to be active in 'mild' periods.

Weed control: no sprays on but fortunatley blackgrass remains small and at low numbers so no panic yet.

West Midlands: Crops range from three leaf to mid-tillering. Early sown wheat is forward and lush. However, it is very rare to see a complete 100% ground cover on any fields apart from the lighter early sown crops. Fields have dried tremendously well over the last two weeks with a dramatic change in the last week, most ground is travelling well and improving day by day such that all land is now OK to get on bar the obvious ponds and lakes still evident in some fields. Manganese issues on light land crops. Some were sprayed second week of Feb. Bad fields rolling this week and will apply more/first dose as soon as it warms up ( + copper on black sand or blowing sand).

Slugs: some activity in early January but none seen since then.

Septoria tritici: very obvious on lower leaves on forward crops.

Fusarium: early symptoms on stem bases in some but not all crops.

Weed control: where no autumn herbicides applied there are some very large grass weeds as well as cleavers and a fine selection of other broad-leaved weeds.

North East: Most wheats now at GS 22. Purpling and lack of lustre more noticeable with prolonged wet and frost conditions on late plantings.

Septoria tritici: active on lower leaves of some varieties.

Weed control: herbicide applications have been delayed by the rains and cold weather.

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Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Signs of new growth (courtesy Farming Online).

South East: Pigeons remain a real nuisance in many crops, with some fields resembling stubble due to the skeletal remnants of rape - desperately need a milder spell and even a little rain to wash in fertiliser to encourage some new growth. Most advanced and ungrazed crops have flower buds enclosed in growing points now.

Light leaf spot: beginning to find some infection foci now in crops that have been relatively ungrazed.

Phoma: all crops were sprayed in October/November and some again in December - only low levels of re-infection noted since January which has in many cases been eaten by pigeons!

Weed control: significant populations of cleavers noted where Novall applied pre-emergence (wet conditions reducing persistence).

Eastern Counties: Seeing a little growth in centre of plants. Generally on the lighter soils in NW Norfolk rape looks well, at about the right stage for the time of year generally sitting close to the ground with relatively large plants. Only crops to be abandoned are some direct drilled fields where slugs thinned the crops to below acceptable populations.

Phoma: Phoma spotting obvious but the majority of crops were treated in November and the lesions are old. Planning to apply any outstanding phoma sprays to crops not treated ASAP.

Light Leaf Spot: some just appearing will continue to monitor in case a spray is needed prior to stem extension.

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: control of paramount importance as crops begin to grow away. Canopies are small and pigeons have been gaining easy access to fields. A variety of methods to scare birds are needed.

Weed control: still waiting for the weather to warm before making herbicide applications for surviving charlock in the bottom of the crop.

East Midlands: Pigeons continue to play havoc and many crops just a few leaf stalks and stumpy stems. Need some warm soils and growth to get growing points going and to actually see how much has survived pigeons removing growing points.

Phoma: with a lot of unsprayed crops I expect to see some phoma in crops this year.

Light leaf spot: not a lot of leaf to get any yet.

Weed control: herbicide has now gone on for blackgrass control in the last week or so.

West Midlands: Crops range from 3 to 8 leaves, difficult to tell in some fields as they have been reduced to stubs by the pigeons or rabbits. Most fields have holes in them for one reason or another. As for wheat, so far all crops look to have survived (even those that we have not seen since the pre em went on and were flooded/waterlogged) too early to say on some of the pigeon/rabbit grazed fields, we'll have to see how they repond to nitrogen.

Phoma: still crops in need of treatment.

Light leaf spot: not sure as it is difficult to differentiate wind/frost damage along with herbicide singeing due to the cold conditions. Keeping an eye on it for now.

Pigeons: severe damage to some fields.

Weed control: frosts have knocked back some of the larger charlock plants.

North East: Crops range from 3 to 9 true leaves.

Pigeons: a lot of damage to crops.

Phoma: old lesions apparent but no new lesions seen on new leaves.

Light leaf spot: none seen yet.

Weed control: arger Runch and Charlock have been checked by the recent frosts.

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Winter Barley

Eastern Counties: Crops at the three to four tiller stage with very little disease.

East Midlands: Crops at 1-3 leaves. many crops still to receive an herbicide.

West Midlands: Most forward at start of tillering.

North East: Most crops range from GS11 to 21. Fertiliser to go on this week.

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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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