With this being my last article, I thought what better way to end things just as I started by talking about the weather.
In any normal year I would be wrapping up the final few meetings with clients to discuss the year just gone and the year ahead before combines start rolling and clients disappear over the harvest period. But, what with the winter and then spring we had, we should have known that the summer would be anything but normal.
In some cases, oilseed rape and winter barley has been cut a good 2/3 weeks earlier than expected meaning some of my summer cropping meetings have been on combines instead of at the kitchen table and some will be on combines whilst cutting winter wheat. Considering its still only mid-July as i write, it must be one of the earliest starts to wheat harvest many people will have ever seen.
Looking last week at rainfall figures from my area it was quite interesting what I found. From the start of this year to date we have had approx. 295mm of rainfall with only 2mm falling in June and nothing falling in July as of yet. But when looking back at last year’s rainfall figures, we have still had more rain this year up to the end of June and we won’t be far off exactly average for total rainfall to todays date [w/c July23]. This will obviously change dramatically if it continues to stay dry throughout July and into August. This just showing that with farming, success does not rely upon how much it rains or how hot and sunny it is, rather when it rains and when it is hot and sunny.
Looking ahead three or four weeks, many growers will be looking at getting oilseed rape crops in the ground. With current soil conditions more resembling areas of western Queensland Australia the decision to go ahead and drill crops may not be the best idea. If conditions continue, lack of moisture will cause poor germination, and seed may end up falling down cracks which give the Grand Canyon a run for its money. Many growers are planning on drilling expensive hybrid seed to try and combat slugs, flea beetle and pigeon damage. This however being a lot of money to put into the ground banking on us getting enough rainfall to get the crop up and away. If I have learnt one thing with oilseed rape in the last three years, it’s that we don’t want to slow down establishment in any way. And if that means waiting for moisture then so be it. But let’s remember, a lot can happen in 2-4 weeks.
Something worth noting for this autumn is the enhanced metaldehyde stewardship guidelines which can be found at www.getpelltwise.co.uk. The key points to remember are as follows:
A good way of complying with the stewardship guidelines is to use ferric phosphate instead of metaldehyde. There may be a misconception that ferric phosphate does not kill slugs like metaldehyde, but this is not true. The difference is that slugs will die below the surface meaning you won’t see dead slugs but you will be doing the same job.