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Warm end to March gets crops off to good start

Last week’s warmer weather gave crops a much-needed boost as they exit a cold, wet winter.

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While winter crops generally look okay, cooler nights mean they have not grown to the extent that some growers may have hoped for, says Yorkshire-based independent agronomist Patrick Stephenson.

 

“There has been some weather damage with standing water in some low-lying areas but it is a lot better than last year. A warm rain would be very helpful right now.”


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Oilseed rape

 

In the area Mr Stephenson covers, including Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, most growers have applied fertiliser and a few early oilseed rape varieties are beginning to flower.

 

“Rape has suffered because of the weather and to a lesser extent, cabbage stem flea beetle," he says.

 

“There is light leaf spot – it depends on the variety. If the variety has good resistance it is harder to find.”

 

In general, combinable crops are variable in terms of size and growth stage, he says.

 

Recent dry weather has kept diseases such as yellow rust and septoria at bay, but winter barley was dirty coming out of winter showing net blotch and brown rust, he adds.

 

“The recent run of drier weather has dampened it down but barley crops are approaching the first broad spectrum fungicide which will be applied just after Easter.”

Weeds

 

Where autumn herbicides were applied, they worked well, he says.

 

“Not a lot of tidying up is required this year.”

 

With most spring beans already drilled, Mr Stephenson expects that most spring barley will be drilled by the end of the first week of April.

 

Agrii regional technical manager David Felce, based in Cambridgeshire, says oilseed rape crops are variable.

 

He says: “OSR has been affected by cabbage stem flea beetle but also soil conditions and waterlogging. Flea beetle larvae are uppermost in people’s minds. Wheat, where it went in well and has not sat in wet conditions is looking pretty well and a lot better than last year.

 

“There are some extremes where some crops are looking well and others poor whereas last year everything was mediocre. There is a bigger spread of variability. This is down to weather and soil conditions, how well drains are working and how well maintained they are.”

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