Crop walking one morning at beginning of September saw me a do a double take as I crossed between fields. I discovered a rather unexpected result of the replanting of a hedge line in January, which was now providing shelter for our nemesis, the CSFB – with the hedge guards acting like a sunroom, warming them up for a day of shot holing ahead no doubt. I’m confident in time this newly established hedge will provide an excellent habitat for our beneficials and hopefully their work has already begun, they must just be operating a little more discretely than their brazen target!
Whilst far from taking a year off, it seems the CSFB numbers appear to be considerably down on what we’ve seen in the previous two years. Evident during harvest, in the grain store and trailers there were hardly a shiny nuisance to be found.
Drilling Dates Compared
Our earliest drilled OSR managed to go almost totally unscathed, no doubt aided by the damp second half to August. The plant population and subsequent biomass that has been built has been ideal. As a result, it has kept the sprayer a little busier, firstly with a pass of Falcon to remove volunteer barley which all the OSR crops received during September. Additionally, Belkar was applied at 0.25l/ha to remove a good spectrum of broad leaf weeds before the rows close up. Belkar is proving a useful tool in the armoury for the last couple of years as we have moved away from pre emergence herbicides, partly for risk management but more importantly not wanting anything to restrict early growth.
The fields sown on 26th were a little slower than expected to get going due to 90mm of rain during the second half of August, this caused soil temperatures to drop temporarily by 5c. Although some CSFB pressure was seen, the crop was always growing away from it, succumbing to one spray as my nerve broke. However, this contained only micronutrients, with the aim to support quick growth and help give me the sense of being useful. Despite my nerves, plant populations have been excellent across all varieties and with a warm, if a little windy September growth has been fantastic.
The final field sown certainly bore the brunt of the grazing seen this season and as if like clockwork the first weekend in September saw an influx of CSFB. For a number of nights they could be found happily munching away, putting the plants hybrid vigour to the test. To my delight, and testament to this strong trait, it did manage to keep on growing through the pressure. Whether we will see a higher incidence of larvae as we enter winter, I suspect so. The half of the field that had buckwheat sown as a companion applied via the Stocks applicator on the Pro-Til, has certainly looked well. The buckwheat is very fast to strike and emerge, ideal in that respect as a companion. Although, in terms of acting as a distraction, grazing damage seems to be similar across the field, but importantly the buckwheat is a host for mycorrhizal fungi, maintaining the link where OSR on its own doesn’t.