Persistent rainfall over the last couple of weeks is leading to delays in cereal drilling and potato and beet harvesting.
AHDB Strategic Farm West host, Rob Fox, who manages Squab Hall Farm near Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, says winter cereal drilling started on October 10. “We got 18ha of winter barley in but had to pull the drill out once and odd corners we could not drill. We moved into wheat but were rained off.”
Cereal drilling is usually completed in the first week of October on the farm’s marl and heavy clay soils. “We took the decision to hold off and wait for a flush of black-grass as it was so dry until the weather broke. Now things have gone a bit too far the other way,” says Mr Fox.
However, there is still plenty of time to get wheat in, he says. “We are bumping up seed rate to 425 seeds/sq.m and herbicide decisions are changing every day depending on where we can travel.”
In Cambridgeshire, Agrii regional technical manager David Felce says delayed wheat drilling is not an issue yet and the rain has led to decent flushes of grass-weeds and activity of residuals should be good. Delayed winter barley drilling is more of a concern, he says.
“Winter barley is less tolerant of late drilling than wheat. As drilling gets later, it gets taller, the opposite to wheat, and you can find the taller crop lodging come spring. But as long as you get the PGRs and N management right, in most years there is not that much difference.”
Potato harvesting is proving difficult for growers in the North West, says John Sarup of Spud Agronomy. “Two or three of my clients have bought self-propelled harvesters to help with progress. Some are leaving parts of fields. It is important to identify areas where there is the possibility of soft rots – that is the last thing you want. I am also seeing watery wound rot and greening is a big issue where heavy rainfall is washing soils off the top of ridges.”
In the East, yields are slightly above average and in the North West they are high, he says. “But with all the wastage concerns and areas not harvested they could be no better than average. How potatoes will store is the big unknown.”
British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) says progressively wet conditions have meant a move to harvesting on lighter land to keep factories supplied. Where harvest plans have changed, it advises growers to keep a watch on fungicide harvest interval. “Most crops will have received a second fungicide, but watch crops destined for later harvesting carefully, to assess the need for a third fungicide,” advises BBRO.