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Very close up shot of wheat crop ears in field

Report: 12 March 2010 (for week beginning 08 March 2010)

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

Still little growth evident: Oilseed rape crops beginning to suffer from prolonged cold and continued pigeon attack.
Snow mould evident in some crops of winter barley.
Septoria becoming more obvious in winter wheat - it is the only foliar disease present.

Winter Oilseed Rape

image from FoL

Purpling of leaves
common from the cold.
Photo Farming Online.

South East: 6-9+ true leaves - crops are now at rosette stage, hugging the ground and generally looking purple and a bit "sad" reflecting recent frosts and cold winds - only exception to this are those crops with higher basal fertility. No sign of any new growth in most crops as yet, with exception of ES Alienor which is definitely beginning to extend slightly with buds enclosed.

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: Still only at rosette and new leaf confined to high mineral N soils. Canopies remain small compared to last autumn/early winter. Large flocks of pigeon continue to hammer away at virtually every field.

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.

Eastern Counties: Oilseed rape seems to continue to lose older leaves and ground cover is quite poor in some fields. Photographs taken to determine GAI have given results of 0.5 or less on several fields. Crops have also lost colour and are very purple. Plants had generally achieved a decent size before winter and root system are well developed. The centres of plants are just beginning to grow on more fertile sites. Soil surface now dry and powdery due to action of frosts. Very cold with little growth.

Light leaf spot: it is very difficult to diagnose LLS in the field at the moment. Older leaves are bleached and younger leaves have silver blotches as a result of the cold weather. Close inspection of more susceptible varieties eg Castille with a hand lens have revealed very little LLS. Leaves have been sampled with suspect blotches and are currently being incubated in the airing cupboard.

Weed control: Charlock seems to have suffered badly during cold weather, but effects vary from field to field and we are still assessing whether or not to apply some herbicide to help it on its way.

East Midlands: General feeling amongst all in this area is that crops are going backward. Many crops now turning blue and pigeons starting to hammer them resulting in little or no green leaf. Some root development but is slow.

Light leaf spot: incubating leaves but difficult to spot in field as leaves turn blue with cold and mainly old dead lesions from frost etc. If in doubt incubate for 3 days in plastic bags but beware of mycelial growth around old phoma lesions and don't confuse this with LLS.

West Midlands: Crops range from bare ground due to pigeons through to overly large crops.

Light leaf spot: waiting for this to appear.

Phoma: unsprayed crops still have low levels.

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. This week's frosts have caused severe leaf damage.

Light leaf spot: no obvious symptoms seen, but its a long time since last fungicide applied so further protection is planned for new growth. As soon as conditions improve will apply a suitable fungicide if disease is seen.

Weed control: where herbicide applied in December 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

A lot of dead leaves in the
base of some crops.
Photo Farming Online.

South East: Final fields after lettuce finally drilled at beginning of week with Soissons. 10 days of drying winds have improved ground conditions no end, however, growth stages remain in suspended animation due to sustained cold weather and low soil temperatures and range from GS 13 to 22/23, with bulk of crops now at around GS23+. Crops are looking very grey/purpled by continuing cold winds and lack of warmth by day. Continuation of protracted cold weather since mid December has effectively curtailed any significant crop growth for nearly 3 months now, and with soils remaining cold and wet at depth, little prospect of significant growth for a while yet.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: no active pustules visible now.

Septoria: very evident on all older leaves - only top 3 leaves appear free from symptoms.

Weed control: planning to apply herbicides when soil temperatures recover and crop growth has started.

South West: Very little change on last week. The greening up mentioned previously has not translated into much new growth. Temperatures remain stubbornly low. A combination of rabbit damage and frost heave on very light brash soils will mean some redrilling is necessary.

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.

Eastern Counties: Crops range from one to seven tillers but the majority are at the three tiller stage. Crops looking well and actively growing. Soils drying out, conditions generally fit for field operations. Soil temperature 2 deg.C.

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 most crops, in particular on early drilled and forward crops.

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

East Midlands: Growth still remains very slow and some blueing of leaves. New root shoots just showing so some signs of hibernation ending. Top of ground now dry apart from some very heavy soils, but soils just below surface still sticky. Soil temps fluctuate but usually around 5 deg C. but some days 3 deg C. Fieldwork going on OK, no rain in last 7 days (when did that happen last - about last October).

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: gone in the frost.

Septoria: lesions found on older leaves.

Eyespot: stems clear so far - only slight browning seen on one crop of second wheat but too early to say yet whether eyespot, especially as crop suffering from mn deficiency.

Weed control: generally blackgrass looking stressed and blue/grey in colour i.e. no growth. All sprays on hold until get some consecutive days of growth.

West Midlands: Crops range from GS 25 to GS 11. Very little active growth. Field conditions have improved dramatically, surface conditions are very dry and most fields are like sponges to walk on which shows that frost lift has occurred and is obviously why we are seeing manganese deficiency symptoms on quite a few fields.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: sorted out by the cold weather.

Septoria: low levels on bottom leaves.

Weed control: wild oats - not many to see and have concerns that we will see a big spring flush once it warms up.

North East: first wheats mostly GS24-25, and later sown crops GS21-23. Only 3mm rainfall in last 7 days but frosts every night. Most fields travelling OK now, but there are still areas where care is needed to avoid forming deep ruts.

Brown rust: none seen.

Yellow rust: none seen.

Mildew: gone in the frost.

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

Eyespot: stem staining easy to find but not able to identify as eyespot by eye.

Weed control: some fields have high levels of blackgrass in them now. The worst infestations are on headlands and in scattered patches across some fields. Where autumn herbicide was applied control looks good but where it wasn't there are some dense patches of tillered blackgrass to control now.

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Winter Barley

: Crops are fully tillered, but some very yellow and need some warmer drier weather, like us, before they will pick-up.
Reports of Snow Mould from Lincolnshire and Norfolk.

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Spring Beans

: Drilling of spring crops about to start with beans and red wheat going in early next 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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