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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 08 March 2010 (for week beginning 01 March 2010)

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

The winter: seems as reluctance to leave as a pig is to go to market. A little growth seen in some oilseed rape crops and first signs of wheat bulb fly damage in the East.

Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Purpling of leaves common
from the cold
Photo Farming Online.

South East: Crops have 6-9+ true leaves - crops are now at rosette stage, hugging the ground and mostly looking purple reflecting recent frosts and cold winds. No sign of any new growth as yet.

Light leaf spot: first lesions beginning to show now in crops where no fungicides applied pre-Xmas.

Weed control: frost has proved to be a very effective natural "herbicide" on charlock in most crops this year. A few fields where rape has been grown closer than 1 year in 4/5 and headlands have moderate levels of hedge mustard.

South West: Rape is now pushing up clusters of green leaf and early spring growth is under way. Noticeable how much greener rape is on last years fertiliser overlaps confirming early sample indications that soil mineral N levels are low this year.

Light leaf spot: can be found where the pigeons have left some leaf and fungicide treatments will be applied as soon as ground allows. Careful assessments needed as not all leaf blotches are LLS. If in doubt incubate in polythene bags in a warm place and look out for sporulation.

Weed control: Charlock - despite apparent good kill from the frost, closer inspection of charlock patches reveals many surviving small plants so planned herbicide applications will still go ahead.

Eastern Counties: Oilseed rape has lost a lot of green leaf in recent weeks and some crops have lost colour becoming very purple. This seems to be more of a problem where soils have been slow to drain and in compacted areas. A few plants seem to be rotting off at ground level ( frost damage?). Generally plant size is good and crops are well rooted, the centres are just beginning to show some growth. Very wet, water lying in some fields other lighter free draining soils beginning to dry out. Planning to apply fungicides with growth regulatory effects to several fields which have large LAI (despite winter die back) and relatively high populations. Will monitor LLS and take action accordingly.

Light leaf spot: very little seen in NW Norfolk crops.

Weed control: effects of herbicide applied pre-Christmas now showing up very well, blackgrass control looks good.

East Midlands: Crops still struggling to put out much top growth but new root growth happening - some soils still very wet leading to blue patches.

Weed control: appears to be working well with usual stem symptoms but weeds still look quite green in one or two crops even where control seen. Assuming it is down to weeds being "refrigerated" during cold weather, although what slow growh has done to uptake we will have to wait and see.

West Midlands: Crops range from bare ground, due to pigeons, through to overly large crops. Canopies have opened up a lot over the last month as lower leaves die off.

Weed control: Charlock in oilseed rape crops has been totally destroyed by the frosts runch on the other hand has survived.

North East: Most crops technically still 8-12 leaves, but there is a lot of winter kill due to cold wet soils, and also severe pigeon damage in many crops. Despite the cold conditions, there is some heat in the sun when it appears and crops are just starting to respond. No further operations have been done, as even after a good frost there are areas with water in tramlines which are still impassable.

Light leaf spot: no obvious symptoms seen, but it's a long time since the last fungicide was applied so further protection is planned for new growth.

Weed control: where herbicide was applied in December the control of charlock is good, but runch control is more variable. In some fields the frosts have killed both charlock and runch.

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Winter Wheat

image from FoL

Septoria obvious in the
base of some crops.
Photo Farming Online.

South East: Growth stages remain in suspended animation due to sustained cold weather and low soil temperatures. They range from GS13 to 22/23, with the bulk of crops now at around GS 23+. Continuation of protracted cold weather since mid December has effectively curtailed crop growth for nearly 2½ months now, and with heavy rain in last 10 days (2½ inches+) soils are again wet and cold, so little prospect of significant growth for a while yet.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: gone in the frost.

Weed control: some significant populations of blackgrass evident following pre-/peri-emergence herbicides - growth stages range from GS12-23 now, but fortunately little growth has happened in last 2 months of cold weather. Outstanding herbicide applications will be made once soil temperatures recover to 6 deg.C+ - probably not before mid-March.

South West: Wheat has greened up and certainly looks fresher than 2 weeks ago. Some new leaf has developed. Growth stages still very much vegetative. Sunshine has also improved some of the manganese deficient areas. Virtually all land should travel in the tramlines by next week, assuming forecasts are correct.

Brown rust: gone in the frost.

Yellow rust: frost keeping it at bay for now.

Mildew: gone in the frost.

Weed control: fields which missed treatment last autumn in non blackgrass situations have high annual meadow grass populations which will require herbicide when things warm up.

Eastern Counties: Crops range from one to seven tillers but the majority are at the three tiller stage. Condition of crops improving with warmer weather conditions. Soils at field capacity apart from very light land. Some phosphate and potash applications underway where field conditions allow.

Brown rust: odd pustules on susceptible varieties; Duxford, Zebedee, Cordiale.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: disease present on late drilled crops and on susceptible varieties, Solstice, Conqueror and Claire, but not active.

Septoria: apparent in early drilled and forward crops. Disease not very active.

Wheat bulb fly: 1% plant invasion on some fields.

Weed control: Blackgrass present and tillering, plants not actively growing and no action until ground warms up.

East Midlands: Some signs of growth with new roots just showing but on the whole very slow with continued night frosts keeping soil temps down. In spite of some drying weather soils are still very wet. Most clay loams difficult for travel but sandy clay loams would carry.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: gone in the frost.

Septoria: lesions found on older leaves.

Weed control: drying soils give some hope but soil temps still only 4-5 deg C and need some consistent increases in soil temps to think of spraying. Forecast of cold days and night frosts to continue for some days yet - blackgrass still relatively dormant so isn't getting away.

West Midlands: Crops range from GS25 to GS11. Drying up nicely over the last 4-5 days, BUT still too cold to apply any herbicides. Min till ground is definitely the driest. Still have approximately 1000 acres with no autumn herbicide. There are quite a few fields showing with manganese deficiency symptoms which I think is being exacerbated by signs of frost lift (primarily on the lighter soils). Trace elements being applied where the symptoms are severe (not sure whether warm enough to get into the plants?).

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: sorted out by the cold weather.

Septoria: low levels on bottom leaves.

Weed control: in unsprayed crops annual meadow grass varies between quite a lot (particularly on headlands) to very little.

North East: first wheats mostly GS24-25 mid tillering, and later sown crops GS 21-23. Yet another 23mm rainfall in last 14 days, so still little chance of any field operations until we get a few consecutive dry days. Temperatures are too low to consider PGR applications yet. Severe manganese deficiency showing in patches in a few fields despite having a dose in the autumn. Have broadcast a manganese granule with a quad bike where have worst case, as plants are being lost.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen. As this is a high risk area varieties with a resistance rating of 5 or less (includes Oakley, Robigus, Duxford, Gallant, Glasgow and Viscount) will require careful management.

Mildew: gone in the frost.

Septoria: very high levels on all susceptible varieties, and surprisingly severe on Viscount. Robigus is relatively clean.

Weed control: very little herbicide applied last autumn so there are some challenging blackgrass situations this spring. The applications made last autumn look as if they have been very effective, but dense patches have some surviving green tillers.

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Winter Barley

Nationally: Showing typical late winter yellowness.

Eastern Counties:

Net blotch: present in forward crops, particularly Cassata and Pearl and second barley crops. Disease not currently active.

North East:

Net blotch: Moderate level in the more susceptible varieties such as Carat , Cassata and Retriever, and very little in Cassia, Volume and Saffron.

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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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