Crop Watch North – Farmers Weekly – Helen Brown

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Helen BrownGood yields and poor weather sums up our harvest in Cumbria. Although we got off to a good start on the winter barley, thunder showers and wet ground conditions made the wheat and spring barley harvest trickier - with a significant proportion of crops battered down by the weather.

The high-disease-pressure season was reflected in our trial site results, as the difference between fungicide-treated and untreated winter barley averaged 3.1t/ha, varying from 1.56 to 5.98t/ha between varieties.

This really highlights the importance of considering varietal disease resistance and appropriate fungicide programmes.

In general, yields were good this year, with plenty of straw, which is so important in our mixed farming region.

Average yields at our Cumbrian trial site on treated plots were 9.79t/ha on winter barleys (maximum 11.73t/ha) and 9.4t/ha on the winter wheats (maximum 11.64t/ha).

Last week brought some welcome sunshine and dry weather and the majority of winter wheat and winter barley crops have been drilled in generally good conditions.

Weed control

Pre-emergence sprays have been applied, primarily in fields with a history of brome grasses, where they have been based on flufenacet. On most winter cereals, we will wait and apply a post-emergence autumn herbicide, as this allows for the mixing of an insecticide to target BYDV-carrying aphids where appropriate.

Our main weed targets in winter cereals tend to be annual meadowgrass, which thrives in the Cumbrian weather, and broad-leaved weeds.

Maize harvest is now on the go, with crops grown under film significantly earlier, with a more mature cob. Good early-season weather has helped promote bulky crops, which are, in general, looking good.

Despite autumn usually being our key period for grass reseeds, wet weather during most of August meant very few grass reseeds have been done on farm, as we have missed the optimum timing, and these will now be delayed until next spring.