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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 13 February 2015 (for week beginning 09 February 2015)

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

13th February 2015: This is the first report on crops as they come out of the winter and their condition reflects the good autumn sowing conditions. Most report that early sown wheat crops have a lot of tillers and that management of these crops in early spring will be key to keeping them standing. These crops have a lot of tillers which they need to shed. Yellow and Brown rust is a trace levels in some crops, even after the frosts. Winter barley crops have lost some colour after the frosts but the cold snap has controlled any rust and disease. Winter oilseed rape crops are a very different breed to last spring and many report that these crops have a large GAI. Light Leaf Spot is just beginning to become apparent.

Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Yellow rust at trace levels in Northern Crops

South East: Crops range from GS 21 to early stem extension. Soil temperatures are currently too low for nitrogen applications and as such not looking to start applications on second wheat and backward/grazed crops until the end February/early March. Brown rust is very evident in September sown Crusoe in particular and will need a T0 fungicide. Mildew is mainly absent after the frost but there is the beginnings of some stem based browning suggesting eyespot in early sown wheat. Septoria, on the other hand, is obvious on all older leaves of all September and early October sown wheats.Gout fly damage (“gouted” tillers ) following high numbers of eggs found on crops emerged in early October, can now be readily found on 50-75% of plants in these crops (c. 10% of sown wheat area). Blackgrass is only at low levels in most fields following autumn residuals.

Eastern Counties: Early to mid-September sown crops now have up to 10 - 15 tillers and will need a robust PGR programmes during the season. Late sown crops are more manageable. Grass weed control has been good and residuals in "stacked" herbicides have worked well in October sowings. Broad leaf weeds have been well controlled to date. Disease levels remain low with the frost seeing off rusts and mildew but Septoria is ever present on lower leaves. GS 30 will be plenty early enough for the first fungicide. Some fields are still waterlogged where failed drains or high water table is causing some problems. This seems to be a residual affect from the wet winter of 2013/14 plus some heavy rain in August. The poor crops are mainly restricted to these wetter fields.

East Midlands: Crops are looking a bit blue/grey and in need of some warmer soils. Forward crops at GS 24 and later ones at early tillering. There are odd patches of manganese and slug damage but on the whole most crops are OK. Canopy assessment shows Green Area Index of around 0.25 to 0.3 in many crops. Many will need early March nitrogen and even some late drilled first wheat to get tillers going. No sign of any disease apart from some older leaf septoria.

West Midlands: Checking crops coming out of the winter and I do not think I have seen a bad crop of any wheat with very few if any holes in the fields (just the odd patch of standing water). But there are plenty of wheat crops that are far too forward ( ie too thick as a result of up to 7-8 tillers ). Later drilled crops look ideal with a small percentage drilled when it was too wet and about 5-600 acres sown late after maize and fodder beet which only has 1-2 tillers at the most. If we get the right weather then we could get some very good average yields considering that this time last year the majority of the heavier land crops were literally stood in standing water. This year fields are walking very well (bit sticky due to the frost coming out but easily travelled on with machinery), thus root structure should be good. Disease levels in general are low but Septoria is very evident on older lower leaves in early sown crops.

North East: Early sown crops are well tillered and still vegetative whilst late sown crops, many in an attempt to control blackgrass, are at early tillering stage. There are traces of Yellow Rust in susceptible varieties even after the frosts and snow. Mildew is hovering around too whilst Septoria is evident on older lower leaves.

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Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Light Leaf Spot starting to show

South East: Following colder and frosty conditions since mid-January, crops have been somewhat compressed and are now at an even rosette stage – many crops still have a GAI of 1-1.5, however. Applications of N+S due to begin last week of February on more backward and less fertile fields. Light leaf spot is not showing any field symptoms so far, although incubation of leaves is revealing low levels of infection in around half fields sampled to date and these were all fields that had not had a second fungicide applied in late November/December.Only very low levels of Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle larvae in petioles of crops in our region, reflective of relatively minor adult beetle crop damage seen last autumn.

Eastern Counties: Crop has started to lose older leaves and over canopy cover following cold spell, although prior to this growth of new leaves was evident in the centre of plants. Still GAI approaching 1 in general with plants sitting closely to the ground with good strong roots. Pigeon damage starting from field margins but not extensive. Phoma lesions have dried up and confined to older leaves which are senescing and no sign yet of any Light Leaf Spot.

East Midlands: Most crops look well but many thicker than I would like. Phoma on old leaves but new growth looks clean so far and no sign yet of Light Leaf Spot (LLS). However, frost, winter damage and slugs are leaving some blotchiness on leaves so incubating them to determine presence of LLS . A few crops more backward where autumn/winter slug damage continued. Weed control is generally good.

West Midlands: Crops have responded to the cold weather in that where it was drilled on wide spacing’s the rows are now visible and most crops are now sat on the deck. However, a lot are probably too thick and carefull management is needed to keep these crops under control. We could do with a continuation of the colder weather to keep the breaks on. Light Leaf Spot is beginning to make itself evident. The return to wetter conditions will favour its development.

North East: Crops are looking considerably better than last year but many have too high a GAI leading to some large crops. There is Phoma in some late treated crops and Light Leaf Spot is just beginning to show up. CSFB larva have only been found in one crop so far.

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Winter Barley

image from FoL

Crops mainly disease free.

South East: Crops range from GS 21 to mid-tillering. Mildew can be found at low levels in Cassia where crops are thick. Net-blotch and Rhynchosporium are also at low levels. Blackgrass only at low levels.

Eastern Counties: Crops are relatively disease free after recent frosts although if you look hard you might find traces of Net-blotch but Rhynchosporium and Brown rust are pretty much absent. Balckgrass control has been quite successful in the majority of fields.

West Midlands: Crops have lost their sheen after the frosts and are beginning to look a bit pale. Disease levels remain low with some Net-blotch and Rhynchosporium evident particularly in Cassia. Mildew levels have reduced significantly after the recent frosts.

East Midlands: Crops are a bit pale but on the whole looking good with low levels of disease. All will need some early nitrogen.

North East: Crops are slowly beginning to go off as they show signs of frosting. Disease levels remain low with only traces of Net-blotch and Rhynchosporium.

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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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