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Crop Watch (17 June) – Farmers Weekly

Latest insights from Crop Watch... ...

Neil Potts, West

Matford Arable (Devon)

Drier-than-normal weather continues to dominate the season, although most places have seen enough rain. There are, however, pockets of ground that have missed most of the rainfall and has had as little as 25mm since the beginning of March.

The consequence of the lower rainfall has been that disease pressure has been lower than normal and the fungicide programmes have successfully controlled disease, rather than just reducing it, as is the case for most seasons in this region.

We have, however, had quite a bit of showery weather since the wheat ears have fully emerged and started to flower, so most crops are receiving a T3 fungicide.

With the spraying season coming to an end, anything we can do to influence crop performance is also drawing to a close.

On the whole, crops are looking very well and full of potential. All we need now is good levels of light intensity without it getting too hot, and there should be a more than presentable harvest on the way.


Drying costs

With energy costs as high as they are, it would be nice to think that late July and August will be the hot, sunny months they are supposed to be, rather than some of the wettest months of the year, as they have been over the past few years. This will at least keep drying costs to a minimum.

Since last writing, one or two parishes have had intensive thunderstorms, delivering an inch or more of rain in less than an hour. While very welcome for most crops, this has proved problematic for some maize plants, which have been washed out of the ground in some places.

This underlines that, whatever you do to mitigate against soil washing, if you have freak weather there is little that can be done to prevent it, other than not cultivating and growing a crop.

I think the next 12 months will be as challenging as the past 12,with everyone now facing the prospect of growing crops with higher input prices. We can only hope the value of the crop output remains at a level that will support the higher input costs.

As no one really knows what is around the corner, this will be a bit of a leap of faith, but over my years in the industry we have always found a way forward, and our farmers have proved time and again that they can be very reactive and innovative bunch of people when the need arises.

Ben Pledger, East

Farmacy (Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire)

As we edge towards another harvest, the majority of applications to combinable crops are pretty much ticked off the list.

Some spring crops such as peas and spring beans still have a final fungicide to apply. In the main, tebuconazole or metconazole will be partnered with azoxystrobin in these situations.

Pea moth traps are being monitored to identify when thresholds are met, and treatment will be in the form of lambda-cyhalothrin. Pea aphids are also being found in certain crops and are being treated with pirimicarb where necessary.

Looking ahead to harvest, there are a number of things to think about. Weed areas in the current crops need mapping and a strategy must be implemented to deal with these areas to reduce populations.


Soil pits

Once the combine has been through and any straw has been removed, the first point of call should be to dig soil pits, before charging in with cultivation machinery. This is even more important this year considering the price of diesel.

Identifying any areas of compaction or other soil structure issues, their depth, and setting the cultivation equipment accordingly can save a lot of time and diesel and, ultimately, maximise yield for the following crop.

Cropping planning for the 2023 harvest has already begun. We are keeping in mind which varieties to plant, and working out approximate nitrogen fertiliser requirements for those crops to formulate a crop nutrition plan so that fertiliser inputs can be purchased when individual buyers deem it the right.

Nitrogen fertilisers containing sulphur are trading at a large premium over straight nitrogen fertilisers, and thought is being put into other ways of applying sulphur to the crop if none is applied with the nitrogen.

Kieserite, polysulphate and straight sulphur fertilisers can all be considered as alternatives.


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