Crop Updates (6 June 2024): Despite late start, rapid crop growth in spring barley


Crop Updates

Our regular round up of the issues affecting crops around Scotland, summarises how crops are developing and what weather and other issues are affecting them.  The update provides information on the progress with key field work activities as well as news on the pest, weed and disease problems being noted in crops.  The health issues being seen in crops are a key part of the topical update and lets growers and agronomists adjust management practices appropriately.


06 June 2024


General Comments

Although spray opportunities have been limited by rain and strong winds, disease levels are still fairly manageable and mostly confined to lower leaves in winter wheat and barley.  Yellow rust however has crept in on wheat where spray gaps were extended although still mainly confined to coastal areas in Fife and Lothians.  There are first reports of ramularia in winter barley, but gates are now pretty much shut on this crop so nothing to be done; yield potential is looking reasonable.  Crop growth in spring barley has been rapid despite the late start and advanced crops are now at flag leaf emergence and looking better and with more even growth than a year ago.  Ramularia will potentially be a challenge for this crop in a few weeks' time as the moisture levels between drilling and now have been high and this is one of the drivers of spot development.  There’s a bit of yellowing in crops on heavier, wetter parts of fields or where there are wheeling's or areas of compaction.  Flowers are off oilseed rape now and final flowering sprays applied so gates are closed and there looks to be some decent yield potential. There have been no outbreaks of potato blight yet in Scotland confirmed by Fight against Blight.  However, there are already 18 positive outbreaks in England with six crop outbreaks in the last 7 days.  The closest to Scotland are in Lancashire. 


Regional Comments  



With most of the month of May delivering warm weather, growth of all things green has been met with the satisfaction of all those involved in agriculture.  Spring barley growth has been rapid, and growers need to keep an eye on them or risk missing optimal spray timings.  The most advanced April sown crops are at flag leaf emergence, but the majority (late April/early May sown) are still tillering.  Some farmers are suggesting they have never seen as much grass at this time of year and silage making is taking place on both dairy and beef farms throughout the county.



Another good period with both spring and winter crops in the area looking extremely good.  Little to no disease reported to date.  Potato planting was completed in the period and in excellent conditions.  In the past week or so turnips have been sown, again in good conditions.  Grass growth has been very good throughout May and several farms have now started silage making in the area.



A fantastic spell of warm wet weather has seen crops jumping forward across the Inverness area.  Wheat ranges from GS 55 to 59 and is looking clean, and winter barley has finished flowering on the whole.  Spring barley crops are still at very wide range of growth stages, late sown crops are still tillering and some of the earliest are booting and rapidly approaching awns peeping stage.  Most crops are looking very lush.  Silage making is well underway in the area and forage crops are being sown in excellent conditions.



The last couple of weeks have been very growthy with all crops growing at a pace!   A range of growth stages for spring barleys have been seen with early sown crops in fertile sites approaching flag leaf emergence and later sown crops at early tillering.  Most crops however have now had weed sprays and early fungicides when weather has enabled spraying.  Traces of disease can be seen in places but appears minimal at present in spring barley and spring oats.  The effects of the wet weather in April however are showing in winter wheat and winter barley, with rhynchosporium and septoria evident.  Preventative sprays are therefore still important to minimise risk of these diseases spreading in June rain showers.  Reports of grass getting sown, and reseeding being undertaken are still being heard and even later sown neeps.  Moisture will be critical to these later sown crops, but many won’t be seeking rain as sprayers will be preparing for flag leaf sprays in spring crops and head sprays in wheat.  Grass mowers will also be keen to avoid rain as livestock farmers start to make 1st cut silage.



The last fortnight has seen crops make terrific progress with spring barleys making up ground following the later start to sowing.  The weather doesn’t seem like it can make up its mind, with glorious sunshine and heat some days followed by rain, fog and cold the next; wintry showers are even predicted at the end of the week!  Winter barleys are flowering, and on the whole crops look to have great potential although some ramularia has been seen already. Winter wheats are just at ear emergence and look well however there is some septoria present.  Winter oilseed rapes have lost their flowers and pods are starting to fill.  Crops look thick however light leaf spot is visible in most crop.  Spring barleys are now receiving their T1s although in many cases weed sprays and fungicides are being combined.  While some growers will choose to go with one fungicide the changeable weather suggests that a two-spray strategy may be best.  The last of the potatoes are finally being planted and the first of the silages are being cut with excellent yield reported as grass swards have bulked up over the past few weeks.  The Buchan countryside is looking much more like it should at this time of year as the days continue to stretch.



A few fine weeks of warm weather coupled with some welcome showers has seen crops grow at a good pace.  Winter barley is past flowering and just at the watery-ripe stage, top leaves, and flag still clean and most crops are showing potential.  Winter wheat is moving fast through the booting stages and some varieties with the heads emerging, again very clean on upper leaves with some septoria down below.  Winter oilseed rape is now past flowering and into pod development and crops are looking well. Spring barley is sitting around GS30/31 and have had their T1 spray.  Most crops are looking clean and have tillered well. There are some patchy crops in the later sown areas, but the rain has helped.  Spring oats have moved through the growth stages quickly and are now at GS31/32 and some crops will get their PGR this week hopefully.  Potatoes are still in the process of being planted but some crops are emerging.



Scattered showers with occasional thundery downpours have been the story of the last week or so, making spraying a bit of a challenge. Sprayers are busy with spring barley herbicides and T1 sprays, winter wheat flag sprays and potato herbicides.  Overall, most have found a window to get these sprays on and crops generally look in good health and are rapidly moving through the growth stages.



Crops continue to grow rapidly with reasonable heat and plenty of moisture.  Winter oilseed rape is now well into pod set, winter barley is flowering or beyond with the gate now closed on both crops.  Winter wheat is now at ears emerging mostly having received the flag leaf fungicides although wet weather made this a bit of a challenge.  Spring barley crops are really moving and range from very late sown crops which care just beginning to tiller through to crops which have the flag leaf peeping out.  Winter beans are in full flower.



Warm temperatures and plentiful moisture mean all crops are growing on well, however, spray timings in winter wheat and spring barley have been difficult.  If it hasn’t been too wet, it has been too windy!  Some wheats are getting later than wished T2 spays applied as we speak, the crop is now at GS41 rather than the target of GS39. Septoria levels have luckily remained moderate and lower down in the plant, though some crops that also had delayed T1 applications are reporting yellow rust making an appearance.  Spring barleys can be found at every growth stage from 3 leaf to flag leaf! Planning spray programs has been challenging, weed control and T1 fungicides are being applied to the main body of spring barleys but some crops have romped past T1 and will be at T2 in 10 to 14 days; the saving grace is disease levels are low, but these will be getting a robust T2 fungicide. Winter oilseed rape crops are coming to the end of flowering and pod-set looks to be fairly good.  A dry spell with light winds for a week would be beneficial for spray applications followed by light rains overnight once a week through to mid-July.



The cereal crops have all motored on since they were sown, and, whilst unsettled, the weather has been warm.  Spring barleys are generally clean and at stem extension.  Some of the fields have some yellow patches which maybe where the ground is slightly wetter with some of the headlands looking a bit yellow as well.  The winter barleys have mainly all finished flowering, there is a bit of disease which is mostly rhynchosporium but again they are looking good where the crop is there. In winter wheat it is a similar story – there is some septoria about but generally clean.  They are just starting to flower.  Oilseed rape has suffered a bit from the wind and heavy rain, but the pods are set and seed developing well.



The recent dry run of weather has been helpful for foraging with breezy warm days allowing for speedy clamping.  Land has been dried enough to enable the last of the potatoes to go in.  Spring cereals are however yellowing in those parts of the fields where the heavier soil areas are waterlogged.  Nitrogen uptake/ utilisation appears more challenged this year than last for spring sown cereals, most likely exacerbated by machinery compaction during establishment. Spring barley development is particularly varied this year too, as is weed emergence, and it’s difficult to make block recommendations due to this variation in crop and weed growth stages.  Wheat crops in general are clean with targeted treatments tending to focus on yellow rust outbreaks more than anything else.  Wheats also appear shorter strawed this season and, so far, less likely to lodge than was the case last year.



Like many parts of the country, Lanarkshire continues to be at the mercy of the weather.  A hot dry spell at the end of May allowed many farmers across the district to get their first cut of silage taken.  Rain has pushed many farms weeks back in their usual silage making routines, and a small dry spell over this past weekend has seen many fields in the area in a flurry of activity with those trying to get the crop off before the weather broke once again.  Show season is in full swing with an impressive turn out of livestock to be seen.  Grass is plentiful in the district, but some farms are reporting more docks present than normal in their fields due to the wet conditions.  Winter crops continue to grow well and spring barley crops in the area are growing at an impressive rate considering the delay in cultivation due to the wet weather.



Winter crops are looking very well and appear to be on a par with last year for growth stages.  T3s will be starting shortly for winter wheats.  The winds and heavy rainfalls have impacted some areas with patches of hybrid rye already going flat and there is concern that we will see some winter barleys go the same way.  Despite an increase in regulator applications this appears to be due these applications being later because of weather delays as opposed to high nitrogen applications.  Brome is becoming more of an issue across the region.  Spring crops are well established, ranging from GS31 to not planted yet!  


T1’s will be underway in the next 10 days with some early weed control already on.  Spring wheats are slower to get established.  There may still be some arable silages sown to use up seed which has not made into the ground in time for combining.  Maize crops are all sown and currently around 4-5 leaves.  Around 20% of the area sown has been sown under plastic with farmers choosing to go for ultra early varieties rather than the plastic.  This decision seems to be more around the inconvenience of the plastic and poor weed control rather than the additional £130/acre.  Fodder beet areas are stable and sitting at 4 leaf stage with 1st post emergence sprays applied. Spring beans are very late, with some crops which would usually be sown in February only sown in early May.  These crops are typically sitting with 6 leaves.  Grass growth continue to boom with silage season well underway and some 2nd cuts already in the pit.  The condensed workload this spring is impacting the amount of grassland weed control happening as weeds go beyond the stage for control and the challenges with availability of contractors.


Posted by SAC Consulting on 06/06/2024

Tags: Agriculture, SAC Consulting
Categories: Consulting and Commercial