As the temperatures have now cooled down and it’s feeling a little more like the beginning of winter, it’s time to both look back on this autumn and to plan for the spring. In general, crop establishment this season has been relatively easy, with the earlier hot, dry weather not bringing much good news on the harvested yields, but working wonders with regard to promoting good soil structure, and in turn giving good seed beds, and allowing free draining soils to extend drilling windows into November. It seems like a long time since the first fields of Oilseed Rape were drilled in early August. Fortunately, halauxifen-methyl + picloram has worked well on even large broad-leaved weeds, a welcome addition to weed control in OSR now that pre-emergence chemistry isn’t applied regularly, and the crop is in the ground 3 weeks earlier than it traditionally used to be. The crop is just about put to bed for the winter now, with the last applications of propyzamide-based chemistry for blackgrass and prothioconazole for Light Leaf Spot being applied imminently.
Looking forward, planning for spring cropping is under way. Stale seedbeds this autumn have produced good flushes of grass weeds which have been sprayed off with glyphosate more than once in places. If stewardship rules allow, and where soil erosion isn’t an issue, stubbles yet to be worked for spring cropping should now be worked whilst the land is relatively dry to allow winter weathering to do some of the secondary cultivations for you, and also to reduce the need for multiple cultivations which can wick away precious moisture if done in the spring. Over the winter variable seed rate plans will be worked out and generated and some drills will be retro-fitted with application technology to allow for placement of N and P fertiliser with the seed to get spring cereals off to the best possible start.