Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
It is turning out to be a long, slow harvest for many. The euphoria of that early start under blazing skies back in July has been considerably dampened by weeks of rain delays. Sadly for some the wet weather and lost combining days are taking their toll on grain quality, with reports of pre-germination and poor Hagberg Falling Numbers. There will be disappointment and frustration as specifications are missed and hoped for premiums disappear from the gross margin figures. It is early days yet to know the extent of these losses, although, as I write just ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, the grain and seed trades do not appear overly concerned about supplies.
Harvest delays can also, of course, squeeze the window of opportunity for establishing the following crop. Oilseed rape drills have been hot on the heels of the combine here in my corner of Suffolk and no doubt elsewhere. But if there is any consolation to be taken from what feels like yet another rainy August it is that soil moisture will not be a limiting factor as new season crops go in the ground.
Good news then for those growers who have decided to increase their oilseed rape acreage for the coming season – and there are quite a few of them if the analysts are to be believed. And should your OSR agronomy skills be a little rusty don’t miss our feature on oilseed rape disease in this issue. We’ve got the latest on optimising phoma and light leaf spot fungicide timings, analysis of the turnip yellows virus threat plus news of some surprising results from a LLS identification survey.
Staying with crop protection, the Rural Payments Agency’s confirmation that use of plant protection products on Ecological Focus Areas (EFA) fallow land, EFA catch and cover crops, and EFA nitrogen-fixing crops is to be banned under 2018 Basic Payment Scheme greening rules is bitterly disappointing and must surely be a backward step for the environment and for UK pulse crop production. Even more so given the ban in fact applies from the time of sowing the crop – even if this is before January 1, 2018 – to harvesting and so will take effect this autumn, no doubt forcing some growers into a late rethink of cropping plans. Yet another move that will do nothing to reassure farmers that those making the rules are in touch with the realities of commercial farming.