Ten weeks of almost daily rainfall and oilseed rape make for unhappy bedfellows. With areas of our cropping looking a little worse for wear, plants are holding on but would certainly appreciate a dry spell.
This autumn we’ve seen more pigeons around than we’ve seen in a number of years. The Early Bird Survey which reports on national cropping, suggests this year there is likely to be a reduction of 23% in oilseed rape area intended to have be sown and with many crops subsequently written off, the total area is likely to fall further.
With an overall 40% fall since 2011/12 at the end of the neonicotinoid era, this undoubtedly puts more pest pressure on those crops that have survived through to winter. Given the flea beetle pressure I’m pleased we’ve been able to grow robust plants that can tolerate some grazing, however I’m keen they don’t become too comfortable so time to dust off the bird scarers I think!
Our October sown wheat emerged well, and it’s been enjoyable to be out doing some cereal crop walking. As to be expected with following OSR and the damp conditions, slugs have been active. We’ve used ferric phosphate pellets for a few years now and whilst more expensive initially, they come into their own in wet conditions where they prove to be far more durable than their conventional counterparts.
The value in having permanent tramlines in place has really shown its worth this autumn, enabling machinery to travel shortly after rainfall ensuring products are still applied in a timely fashion.
The bulk of our winter wheat drilling campaign was set to start in November with the anticipation of a rain free week on the forecast. Unfortunately, this never materialised with November proving to be the wettest month of the Autumn, with over 164mm falling. Surely, it can’t keep raining?!