With many growers likening the weather conditions of the last twelve months to the drought of 1976, I think many of us had convinced ourselves that we would be experiencing another hot and dry start to the summer.
The unsettled weather of June therefore came as bit of a surprise as heavy rains, mild temperatures and stormy conditions prevailed.
However, for the most part in our locality, the wet weather has been very welcome with winter wheats and spring crops in desperate need of moisture after the drought of the last 12 months.
However, disease risk increased as a result of the wet weather; this together with delayed applications due to the catchy weather meant T3 recommendations in cereals focused on a robust use of prothioconazole to mitigate the heightened risk of fusarium and to top up septoria protection.
Winter beans also began to suffer from delayed fungicide and insecticide applications, with chocolate spot starting to take hold in the warm wet conditions, and black bean aphid numbers starting to rise.
Sugar beet meanwhile has really benefited from the rains and quickly started to meet across the rows, fast approaching the 10-12 leaf stage where resistance to virus yellows develops – a welcome stage now we are without seed treatment protection and rely on foliar insecticide applications to control the virus.
Weed issues are easily mapped at this time of year and time should be taken to walk farms and map where problems are occurring so they can be tackled in the coming year.
Where there are resistance concerns, resistance testing should be undertaken to determine the weeds resistance status so future management strategies can be planned intelligently.
Ideally black-grass samples should be collected in the second to third week of July when the top of the head is just starting to shed.
Seeds should be dry and light brown on colour and should be easily collected by gently rubbing the seed head over a bag.
Italian ryegrass should be collected from early to mid-July and wild oats in late July to early August. Sterile and great brome seed should be collected at the end of June while soft, rye and meadow brome should be collected in mid-July.
Now we have entered June variety trials are in full swing and invites to see variety performance at various trial sites are numerous.
When deciding on wheat varieties for next year there are a few additional considerations to be taken into account from previous years.
The first is the loss of Redigo Deter (prothioconazole + clothianidin) this coming season, meaning BYDV control will be through foliar application of pyrethroids.
As a result this may influence drilling date, with later drilled crops being less susceptible to infection, and consequently varieties suited to later drilling may be something to look at. Another consideration is the revocation of chlorothalonil.
If you are considering buying new seed this year with the aim of home saving for the following season, it may be prudent to consider disease ratings and how manageable the variety will be with the loss of this multisite septoria acting active.
New varieties to the AHDB Recommended List (RL) this year include the much talked about Group 2 variety KWS Extase.
This new variety has the highest septoria score on the RL and scores a 9 for yellow rust, making it an attractive low risk variety which still has a high untreated yield.
However, it does lack orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) resistance and is not suited to early drilling. KWS Firefly is new to the RL this year, a welcome addition to Group 3 it boasts the highest untreated yield in this group and is a short and stiff variety.
Together with good all-round disease resistance scores, including a 7 for septoria and OWBM resistance this variety is looking interesting. Group 4 sees two new entries into the soft market – LG Skyscraper and LG Spotlight.
They both have OWBM resistance, and while they have fairly good overall disease packages they would be considered to be fairly high input varieties; however, LG Skyscraper was the highest yielding variety on the 2019/20 RL making it an attractive option together with its decent specific weight.
It is worth noting that in trials LG Skyscraper does seem to be tall and therefore a good PGR input looks to be required, particularly when pushing the inputs to achieve the high yield it is capable of.