Happy New Year. I hope you all had some form of rest and normality over the festive period. Like many of you, I was happy to see the back of 2020 while filled with excitement for what the new year has in store for us. Well at this moment in time I am slightly concerned that 2021 is just 2020 reappearing in disguise.
Today (January 21) seems like the perfect day to stay indoors, keep warm and put thoughts to paper. In the last 24 hours, here in Pickering we have had just more than 40mm of rain. This coupled with the last few inches of snow melting off the tops of the hills means our once arable fields could now be mistaken for rice paddies.
The rivers are just inches off breaking their banks, field drains are backing up and surface water much like my holiday plans, has nowhere to go. On the upside, the future forecasts look to be turning drier, with a big drop in temperatures and frost becoming a regular feature, which will be a welcome relief.
As with all of you reading this, I have full faith in our weather reporters, so much so I will be putting my wellies away and get the walking boots out ready. I’ve still got my sledge out waiting for this mountain of snow that was supposed to be engulfing us last week.
Peering out from my canoe I am pleased with how oilseed rape crops are looking; I am yet to find a field still to have its propyzamide treatment and while using my oars to prize apart the foliage, grass-weed control is looking very pleasing.
Those later sown crops which have stood in water for several months are looking very unhappy and will be a priority for early nitrogen once conditions and temperatures allow.
Cereals are coping well considering their feet have been basking in cold, wet conditions for several weeks now. Early drilled crops have strong tillers and at present, yield potential looks high.
Disease levels are varied, with septoria quietly festering away in the lower leaves, which will need a watchful eye cast over them in the coming months.
Small amounts of yellow rust had been rearing its ugly head, but the lower temperatures experienced last week have done a reasonable job of keeping this sleeping giant at bay for now.
One positive from the wet soils has been the increased efficacy of herbicides. This, however, does not apply when the chemical is still in the can. It’s chalk and cheese between fields that received an autumn application and those which did not.
Fortunately, most of my black-grass crops managed to get some, if not a full autumn programme.
Winter beans have emerged well and plant numbers look very pleasing. Some crops on higher ground are showing slight signs of frost damage, however this has not been too damaging and they will grow away from this.
The combination of field conditions and calendar date means that further grass-weed residuals will be carbetamide-based.
Unfortunately, due to the current restrictions our annual Association of Independent Crop Consultants (AICC) conference was delivered via Zoom.
The conference is always a highlight of my calendar as it gives us all a chance to catch up with agronomists from all over the country and discuss varying tactics over a tomato juice or two.
This year would have been a milestone conference as we are celebrating 40 years of AICC existence. Even though it was not the usual experience, I have to applaud the organisation for the effort and the quality of content available throughout the three days.