Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
I like autumn, but at the moment it feels like it has turned up a bit too early. Harvest got off to a somewhat stuttering start, built up into a good run and as I write, in the last week of Au-gust, has been brought to a grinding halt by widespread heavy rain. Crops and spirits alike are considerably dampened.
Congratulations to those of you who managed to get done before the rain came and commiserations to those of you, in the North and West in particular, with cutting still to do, and who are probably viewing the weather forecast with some consternation.
What a harvest it has been so far. We have had reports of unofficial yield records coming in thick and fast across the main combinable crops; results from AHDB Recommended List trials showing yields above the long-term mean, significantly so in some cases, and commercial yields which seem in the main to be good, providing some respite to poor prices and cashflow pressures.
We are in a period of squeezed margins but the new season is upon us and decisions must be taken as to what will and won’t be planted. Oilseed rape’s place in the rotation has been under particular scrutiny, but harvest 2016 crop drilling is well under way, with some taking advantage of seedbed moisture in early August to get crops in, leading to a few raised eyebrows among their agronomists I suspect.
This autumn is of course the second in which oilseed rape crops will be planted without neonicotinoid seed treatments following suspension of their use, although some growers in areas severely affected by cabbage stem flea beetle have had access to products via an emergency approval.
Some have pointed to the very good yields achieved this harvest as evidence of our ability to grow oilseed rape without neonics. Growers, agronomists, plant breeders and scientists will no doubt be taking a close look at how harvest 2015 crops have performed, how they were managed and what lessons we can learn from this particular season.
However, we should also make sure we do not look at yield figures in isolation, but rather consider them in the context of the original area planted in autumn this year, thereby taking into consideration the level of crop losses.
OSR pests aside, autumn is a key period in the black-grass control calendar and for this issue we have cast our net far and wide to come up with the latest and also some novel thinking on how to improve
levels of control.
Teresa Rush, Arable Farming editor.