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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 18 March 2013 (for week beginning 11 March 2013)

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

: 18th March 2013. It is turning out to be a very protracted late winter with the met office forecasting cold conditions through to the end of March. Hard to believe that this time last year we were talking about high numbers of pollen beetle with some oilseed rape crops beginning to flower. This year oilseed rape crops have barely moved and continued pigeon damage has reduced many crops to leafless stubs. Winter wheat crops are struggling too with the cold winds and frosts. Although many crops have received their first doses of nitrogen it has yet to take effect.

Blackgrass needs controlling:

Phoma still present where no autumn fungicides applied:

First signs of Light Leaf Spot:

Winter Wheat

image from FoL

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

South East: Strong easterly winds have again really taken their toll on the appearance of many crops, with later sown and backward wheats in particular being severely checked. Crops really do need some milder days and nights now to encourage plenty of vegetative growth over the next 3-4 weeks ahead of stem extension. September sown wheats (Claire/Scout) are now at GS22-23+, otherwise most emerged crops are still at around GS13-21 and appear to have hardly moved in the last 6 weeks, other than greening up in response to nitrogen.

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. However, applications are unlikely to take place before the end of March based on forecast of another cold week to come.

Eastern Counties: Crops vary from 1 leaf to 3 or 4 tillers. Nothing has changed in over a month. It is wet, snowy and cold so nothing is growing.

Septoria tritici: Trace levels on lower leaves.

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 remain stressed but some signs of new growth before cold weather which has once more slowed growth. Growth stages generally anywhere from 1 leaf to 3 tillers with some concern over potential for the very late crops which are just standing still. Nitrogen applied and some signs of starting to take effect but painfully slow.

Septoria tritici: On older leaves but not to high levels.

Weed control: Blackgrass starting to tiller on some fields. Annual meadow grass remains low as do broad leaved weeds but expect flush once milder weather kicks in.

West Midlands: Crops struggling to get going under the current cold conditions. Sharp frosts and cold winds are taking their toll particularly on exposed sites. Soils did start to dry out but recent snow and rain have held up field work.

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 at GS 23/24 with an average GAI 0.6. Lack of lustre on many backward crops, some tip burn from cold winds.

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 (picture 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 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 around 30-40% of crops that have been relatively ungrazed. Quartz and Agatha appear to be the worst affected varieties currently.

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 but waiting for milder weather before making any applications.

Eastern Counties: Growth has slowed up completely in current cold conditions and snow has been lying over fields again at the beginning of last week.

Phoma: Spotting obvious but the majority of crops were treated in November and the lesions are old.

Light leaf spot: There are "mealy" type marks on many rape leaves, most are due to the weather, some are fertiliser scorch (obvious) and a few are light leaf spot. We need to continue to monitor crops closely.

Pigeons: Still a nightmare and crops are going backward from grazing due to current weather conditions and the lack of spring growth. Vigilance is essential.

Weed control: Still waiting for the weather to warm before making herbicide applications for surviving charlock in the bottom of the crop. None of the spring spraying has been done yet.

East Midlands: Rape continues to go backwards as a combination of slow growth and high pigeon numbers take their toll. With cold weather forecast for next week the situation is becoming serious on some farms as we need growth to judge the true potential of crops. One saving this year ? no growth regulator needed ? this time last year crops where approaching green bud.

Phoma: With a lot of unsprayed crops expect to see some Phoma this year.

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

Weed control: Some crops to get herbicide when conditions (i.e. milder weather and active growth) occur. Problem could be that flower buds will emerge rapidly once growth gets going.

West Midlands: Some crops are beginning to show signs of Spring growth and flower buds can now be seen in well established crops encased in leaves. However, these are the exception rather than the rule.

Phoma: Still crops in need of treatment.

Light leaf spot: No obvious signs yet.

Pigeons: Severe damage continues in some fields.

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

North East: Crops range from 3 to 9 true leaves. Some indications of new growth with more daylight hours.

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

Light leaf spot: First signs appearing.

Pigeons: A lot of damage to crops.

Weed control: Larger runch and charlock have been checked by the recent frosts.

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Winter Barley

South East: Most advanced crops are now at around GS24-29.

Eastern Counties: Crops at the 3 to 4 tiller stage with very little disease.

East Midlands: Little or no change in growth stages. Manganese to go on when conditions allow before deficiency gets hold.

West Midlands: Most forward at start of tillering.

North East: Most crops range from GS23-24.

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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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