Tillage: April's bitter weather did us a favour by putting a halt to the gallop of disease
Published 11/05/2016 | 02:30
The inclement April weather, from very wet to very cold and anything in between, slowed down progress on all tillage fronts, but all that's in danger is not lost.
It's early in the season and there is no evidence that permanent damage has occurred, and in some instances the inclement weather could actually have improved crop prospects.
Winter wheat sown last autumn into excellent conditions basked over a very mild winter and bounced in to the early spring far too strong for comfort.
Indeed in my article in mid-February, I talked about the 'rude health' of crops and that the threat from septoria proliferation was real. The Irish climate soon saw to that and crops became very open and thin and sat suspended in development for nearly six weeks.
Now that growth has again commenced, winter wheat crops are thin and development stages are still stacking up. However, these thin crops could well be a blessing. Thin crops are not ideal environments for disease spread.
Cold weather over the last month has also helped put a halt to the unbridled gallop of septoria spread, so while there is plenty of disease present which remains a threat to the emerging second and flag leaves, the balance of power is more in favour of good disease control than it appeared two months ago.
While it can be argued that thin crops may not have the number of heads per unit area necessary for maximum yield, wheat has a huge ability to compensate over the course of a season.
A deficiency in the numbers of heads can be made up for in the number of viable grains and the weight of these grains produced in these heads, so it's back to the grain fill period in mid to late June/early July to decide whether the yields of the last two years can be equalled, or even bettered in 2016.