Blog of an Agronomist in North Yorkshire – 18/08/16

Unfortunately, Harvest 2016 will not be the same as the bumper year 2015. Yields are generally back to normal, with some disappointments.

Whether it’s been the weather, yellow rust, or dreaded blackgrass, the list could go on but luck has not been on the side of growers this year.

Winter Barley

Yields are down with many low bushel weights, although the later harvested winter barleys are doing much better. Hybrid barleys have disappointed many. My recommendation for the next growing season would be to apply extra nitrogen and put them on good land. Hoping for them to perform on light sandy soil is certainly a risk.

Two row barley Surge, has performed well and is a welcome addition. Tower and the old favourite Cassia are still coming up with the goods, however, Glacier has again had its problems with some brackling.

Oilseed Rape

The rape harvest is now half way through. Yields vary between 3.25 to 4.38 t/ha on average, and seed is small. Most farms in this area have a rolling average of 3.75 to 4 t/ha, so yields are down on average. There doesn’t appear to be one variety sailing away in front, but Campus and Incentive are performing well.

Over the last 6 weeks I have been crop walking, making notes of problems I have seen in the fields. If crops haven’t performed well I want to know why. Is it fertility, were timings correct, was it the right variety for the field, do we need to change the rotation or cultivation approach?

In order to get the best out of a crop you must understand the field it’s in. This is the time to be questioning, and making alterations if possible. The window is short before the drills are back in the field.

Some winter oilseed rape has already been drilled this week. Where there are fields with numerous broadleaved weeds, I would recommend opting for a split dose of Banastar. One pre-emergence and one early post-emergence. With the lack of robust post-emergence broadleaved herbicides you need to get on top of weed control early on.

The battle will commence once again with flea beetle and slugs. Known problem fields have to be walked frequently, as damage by these two pests can either make or break a crop.

Like many others, I will be pleased to see this harvest all in the shed, it’s been one of those farming years. All I can say is “bring it on 2016/17”.

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