High rainfall as the 2019-20 season kicked off is causing headaches for weed control in autumn-drilled cropping. Paul Spackman seeks advice on how to manage the situation for cereals and oilseed rape.
It is shaping up to be a tough spring for controlling weeds, as the legacy of the wet autumn and winter means many crops are at greater risk of yield losses if weeds are allowed to get established in the coming weeks.
Significant areas were left uncropped in the wettest parts of the UK, resulting in more unplanned spring cropping on land that will take time and effort before it's ready for drilling.
The weather has continued to play havoc for Scottish cereals growers.
After autumn rain halted drilling operations January delivered a country average of 209.5 mm, 135% of the 1961-1990 mean and the Foehn effect saw temperatures reach 18.7°C at Achfary, in December (a UK record), and 15.5°C on January 7.
The result is now big differences in late drilled winter wheat and barley, and root structure could limit the capture of nutrients and needs to be the focus for Scottish arable farmers over the next few weeks.
Whilst many retailers' commitments and government policies are focusing on reducing packaging waste – particularly the use of plastic packaging – economic pressures and the popularity of traditional, plastic, punnets mean that plastic-free packaging has not been fully embraced by the UK's berry sector.
Various desiccation strategies were put to the test at Hutchinsons Fenland trials site, situated at A L Lee Farming Company's Friesland Farm, near Mildenhall in Suffolk last September.
The work focussed on different timings and sequences of the two main chemical alternatives, Spotlight and Gozai, with and without flailing (see table below) in an 18ha field of Markies on black fen soil.
Results across all treatments were better than expected, but agronomist Andrew Cromie stresses this was mainly due to conditions favouring desiccation. "Unusually, canopies were already starting to senesce by Sept, while warm, dry weather was ideal for chemistry to work quickly.
Healthy soil is fundamental to maintaining a good quality and profitable vineyard. Hutchinsons' Rob Saunders and Dick Neale highlight three key areas to focus on.
Waterlogging is detrimental to any crop and vines are no exception. Saturated soil suffocates roots, reduces vigour, and can increase the risk of diseases such as downy mildew and botrytis. Wet soils are also slower to warm in spring and will hamper harvesting activity in autumn.
Consider varietal choice carefully and place seed orders early for Maize this spring is the advice from leading crop production specialists Hutchinsons.
There are several factors that will affect the maize market this spring, making variety choice and early ordering of seed more important than ever, says Peter Brundle, national energy seed crops manager for Hutchinsons.
With the shortage in winter cereals being drilled following the wet autumn, and a shortage of some spring cropping options, predictions are that the amount of maize grown will rise.
A new soil mapping service has the potential to deliver soil data at a level previously unseen. Geoff Ashcroft sought the views of growers and agronomists about the accuracy and capability of the system.
Taking 800 data points per hectare, Hutchinsons TerraMap service appears to be revealing more about soil than any other sampling system which has gone before it.