Slower ripening: We might normally expect the earliest winter barley to be cut this week but that seems very unlikely. Crops have been slow to ripen and it is likely to be next week before there is much chance of cutting and then only on the very early varieties.

Most areas are unlikely to get going much before 21 July as things stand.

This can also be seen in how slow oilseed rape is for desiccation. In other years many crops would be sprayed off by now, but this is only beginning this week in most areas.

Crop condition: The wet May and broken weather in recent weeks have changed many crops from clean to less clean or even dirty in places. Ramularia has become very evident in some winter barley crops and there is considerable septoria infection in wheat in the southern half of the country.

Crops sprayed on time have remained relatively clean and problems appear to be quite local.

There is quite a bit of ‘dirt’ in some winter barley heads as the blank grain sites are attacked by various fungi. Where ramularia is present, crops have gone a dirty chocolate brown colour, but hopefully it will have come too late to affect grain fill.

In general, crops still appear to show good potential. Ramularia is beginning to move in spring barley now also but hopefully it will be held for a while longer because it would cause trouble if it got going now. There is quite a bit of rhyncho and an amount of net blotch on the move also, especially in the south.

Winter wheat crops are generally promising but I can see the impact of heavy growth regulation on disease pressure, especially with septoria. This disease is far worse from Carlow south, while yellow rust has been the bigger problem further north.

Oat crops remain very promising and most have remained very clean, with the exception of a range of blotches that have appeared down in the canopy in the winter crop and at the top of some spring crops.

Spring wheat seems to be particularly promising this year and, so far, most crops have remained very clean.

Grass weeds: Reports of blackgrass are increasing so it is critical that growers know if they have an issue in any part of a field.

Blackgrass heads.

The problem can be reversed so take action as early as possible. Two major bits of advice from the Teagasc specialists last week are very pertinent:

  • Walk your crops thoroughly now to see what is there – if you don’t find it, it will only get worse.
  • One year’s seeding is 10 years’ weeding.
  • So walk the crops, rogue where possible, destroy and remove what cannot be rogued. Stopping a patch can save a field.

    Remember, many grass weeds have developed resistance to many herbicides so cultural control is key to addressing a problem. Most germinate well in the early autumn so stubble cultivation is a key tool. Canary grass is the main exception to this.