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And so we come full circle once again, the combines are at work and the full consequences of the past year’s decisions will soon be revealed. For most of you, I imagine, it has been a year of ups and downs. For some, establishing this harvest’s OSR crop was a distinct down, as the great cabbage stem flea bee-tle (CSFB) battle got under way. Was it all down to the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments or were there particularly high levels of CSFB?Probably in truth a combination of the two. As I write, the NFU has just submitted a second application to CRD for emergency approvals after the first was rejected, but time is running out.
Black-grass continues its inexorable spread across fields, farms and parishes. While it would be foolish of me to suggest we are slowly beginning to beat it, it was heartening at summer open days to see new thinking put into practice and starting to deliver positive results. Take a look at our grass-weed control and Research in Action features for more on some of the latest ideas.
Both the aforementioned agronomy challenges will have added unwelcome extra costs. Close scrutiny of margins and costs of production will, rightly, continue. With new, high quality milling wheat varieties reaching the market, growing in-terest in spring cropping, oilseed rape slipping down the gross margin rankings table and a much-reduced 2016/17 sugar beet price, it will be interesting to see drilling plans for the new season take shape. But I am getting ahead of myself, we have a harvest to bring in and seed sales are reported to be slow, which means plans could change.
Since the last issue Cereals has come and gone, but two briefings I attended stick in my mind. The first was on findings from the first year of the ’zero metaldehyde’ pilot catchment projects. Results were mixed but what did emerge was the recognition by water companies involved that working closely with growers in these catchments was the key to success, which can only be positive.
The second was the launch of guidelines aimed at preventing the develop-ment of resistance in UK weed populations to glyphosate. Given the declining herbicide armoury any mention of ’resistance’ and ’glyphosate’ together in a UK context is concerning. As too are the recent news headlines branding glyphosate a carcino-gen. As ever we must look to good science for the answers, but will Europe’s politicians have the patience to wait for them?
Teresa Rush, Arable Farming editor.