There have been many hundreds of column inches devoted to the Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle menace. I would love to say that the loss of Neonicotinoid seed dressing was the main reason for this epidemic; however, I feel that Pyretheroid resistance may be a greater factor. The best answer to this problem appears to be rapidly germinating and growing crop which is not helped by an Indian summer. Overall the plantings of oil seed rape, by my clients, was reduced prior to the problems of flea beetle. This is primarily in response to unsatisfactory yields over recent years. We are hoping that lengthening the rotation and avoiding fields with inherent pest problems, will help us improve the crops performance. Crops that are at three true leaves are now romping on and fields with blackgrass present will receive a Centurian Max application before the middle of the month. On a brighter note, the dry weather has meant that I have not seen any Phoma and very few slugs.
I appreciate that delayed drilling is a must for helping in the control of blackgrass, which even we in the North acknowledge. However, agreeing with this and adhering to it, are two different conversations. Drilling started slowly, but with dry conditions and some rainfall it has now hit a tremendous pace and many growers will be finished this week. Where does that leave us with pre-emergence weed control? In short hoping for the best and expecting the worst. Soils are still very dry, and the success levels of pre-emergence weed control and the amount of rainfall in September and October are closely connected. Triallate granules are probably the best product in dry conditions but should still be combined with other products in a stack. My only issue with the granules is the smell, which is at best pungent! In recent seasons we have had our best levels of grass weed control in cereals, by following up the pre-emergence program with a very early post emergence treatment. This again will be the plan, but what and how much of a top up is applied will depend on the ever-elusive rainfall.
The loss of the Lexus stable does limit the choice of weed control in the autumn for oats. Again, we will be putting on some Flufenacet at the lowest rate we can to avoid any potential crop damage. Winter beans will be drilled in early October and if only we could work out how to make them pay we would grow more!
Fields for spring cropping on heavy land have received an initial cultivation, or a cheap and cheerful cover crop to try and ensure that the soils are loose for next year’s plantings. Although yields were disappointing for our spring crops this year, we are making positive strides with blackgrass control and the belief that the rotation is more resilient