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In Your Field: Russell McKenzie - 'It's a time of year when black-grass looms large'

It looks like it could well be shaping up to be an early harvest for the second year in a row, although this has not resulted in me altering my planned holiday dates.

I quite enjoyed coming back to the maelstrom of a quarter of harvest completed last year.

 

The reason predominantly seems to be because of the way crops are moving so rapidly, we were fortunate to capture between 20-40mm of rain across the units two weeks ago, which literally was an absolute godsend.

 

Crops have responded accordingly, despite having a slow phase when flag leaf emergence stalled, we had some fields last week where they had moved rapidly from GS37 to boots splitting in seven days.

 

Spring crops have also responded, especially oats and barley, which are competing strongly with each other to see who can push the flag leaf out first, but generally both look stunning along with most of our wheat crops.

 

One crop that does not look like it has been enjoying conditions recently is spring beans. The coffin lid was hovering over them last year and a repeat poor performance will see the lid firmly closed and the nails installed.

 

But by comparison, their winter cousins look superb and provided they perform, I think it is looking highly likely to be a complete switch to winters over springs.

 


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It is also that time of year when the brown haze of death, black-grass, looms large across areas of wheat fields and you find out whether you got things right, the chemicals worked or you got it badly wrong by drilling a week earlier than you should have done.

 

We are not black-grass-free by any means and I accept we need to ‘live with a few plants’, but on the whole, control has been decent.

 

There are a few patches that warrant attention, although it is akin to a spitting cobra in that you cannot take anything for granted as poor control bites back with a vengeance and then some.

 

Next month, Brian Reynolds’ book on his life in farming is released.

 

A great inspiration to me in my early career, it depicts a fantastic journey on his management career during an era of significant changes when Brian was an early adopter of new techniques and pushed the boundaries of crop performance to the limit. Well worth a read.

 

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