This time last year many cereal crops in Cheshire were only just emerging with few farmers able/willing to apply a residual herbicide. Now as I write all my cereals are drilled and have received residual herbicides, aphicides and Manganese where necessary. Most are even past the slug damage window and none required any slug pellets during that period. Problem ryegrass fields are now receiving post-em herbicides as they have reached the 2lf stage and with the good temperatures and shallow-till now adopted on farm I’m hoping for some good results.
Moisture is now ever present but conditions for travel have been good for the continuing aphicides. The long and dry summer has really helped keep the slug population in check as they lay torpid in the depths trying to remain hydrated, only now are they beginning to cycle. Weed emergence has hence been slow but the return of moisture will drive an influx of germination and activate the residuals which I have largely based on Pendimethalin and DFF their long half-life.
Oilseed rape has never looked so clean of disease but now is the time to apply fungicides. Phoma has not been the driver this season so one fungicide to cover that and Light Leaf Spot will be a good foundation for spring fungicide success and keep the pressure lower. No-one wants to find themselves in a crop full of disease come the time when we will be able to travel again up here in the North West. Whilst going through the crop it’d be worth using any planned propyzamide applications. If we wait much later then the risk of it getting into water will be great and blackgrass could be getting large and rooting deeper out of the chemical uptake zone. Better to apply when the weeds are active, up-taking chemical from nearer the surface and smaller in size. For those farms practicing surface tillage or less, onward flushes will be of lower concern as the requirement to rely on persistency is vastly reduced.
Forage brassicas are looking excellent after the large flush of volunteers were taken out early on and are now starting to be grazed. Grass re-seeds have generally all been a roaring success and livestock farmers are continuing to cut grass and will do late into the year to try and re-store low stocks. This may not translate into great yield of milk or meat but at least it’ll keep them ruminating. All in all a year of many firsts!