Dunsden Green Farm, South Oxfordshire - Alpaga Winter Linseed
Produced with the kind permission of Simon Beddows
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February - March
Despite the winter linseed having spent the last few months submerged, mostly for just a week at a time, it is still hanging in there. I am hopeful that it will recover and the surrounding fields that we failed to get drilled over the winter might still get a crop in for harvest. The sun, working with the wind last week, has begun the slow process of drying out the soils.
Due to the weather and some pigeon grazing, inputs to the crop have been limited. When the crop looks less stressed a PGR and herbicide shall be applied. To cover the mix of weeds a mix of Eagle and Maya will be used.
In February, there was still a fair amount of rain, it seems now to be lessening thankfully into March, a total of 126mm rain has been recorded. Average temperatures are still mild and slowly creeping up, averaging 6.8°C (see weather data below).
December - January
Against all hope, the rain has not subsided over Christmas to allow late applications or drilling of Winter cereals. Unfortunately, one field of 35ha of Winter Linseed that was managed to be drilled was flooded. Flooding of the River Thames over Christmas, meaning that 20 ha of the 35ha of Winter Linseed disappearing under water. The rest of the Linseed is looking good, but due to the saturated fields, the Autumn fungicide could not be applied. It is now not worth applying the fungicide to protect green leaf area over the Winter as Spring applications are not far away.
In January total rainfall has eased compared to the previous months, but there has still been 51.3mm of rain in total for the month. Average temperatures are still mild averaging 6.4°C (see weather data below).
The initial grassweed strategy for the winter linseed, was initially to apply Fusilade Max to take out the barley volunteers and then come back with Centurion Max for the grass weeds. Thanks to the rain, applications went straight to the Centurion on the first decent spray day. The rain has provided excellent germination conditions for the grass weeds. A Crawler application was planned, but with the Centurion max having shown excellent control of the grass weeds and volunteer cereals, the grower has opted not to.
There is some disease on the cotyledons; Kabatiella Linicola, a similar disease to Phoma in oilseed rape (see Figure 2). This will need addressing before too long, as control is only by prevention. The drilling of winter cereals has taken priority and no further applications have been made to the linseed crop.
Since sowing the crop has had 227mm of rain as recorded by the Sencrop weather station. Average temperatures are starting to drop and are for October- December 8.8°C, with a wide diurnal variation - the differences seen between night and day temperatures (see weather data below).
Rain has been relentless with 71.4mm since the start of October and there has been little chance of soils drying out enough to allow machinery to travel to finish sowing the last 25ha of winter linseed. It is now too late to sow the remainder of the linseed to allow it to get tall enough to survive winter. The winter linseed that has been sown has established nicely and is now up in rows. Grass weed and volunteer cereal control has been delayed due to wet soils, but are next on the list. It is interesting to note that competition from volunteer barley had less of an effect on the growth of the linseed than it did on the oilseed rape.
Average temperatures remain relatively mild at 12°C, with day temperatures pushing high teens (see weather data below).
Sowing Date: 19th September (part)
Sowing Conditions: The straw of the previous crop of winter barley straw was baled in some fields and not baled in others. The stubble left for 5 weeks to ensure grass weeds germinated. Baled straw allows more accurate linseed seed positioning and better seed to soil contact. The fields were cultivated using a light discing to 50mm deep, followed by an integral packer to get grass weeds to chit and sprayed off with glyphosate. Dry conditions have delayed drilling, however it has allowed a good flush of weeds in the fields. A pre-emergence herbicide Callisto will be applied to the crop to help control early broad-leaved weeds (BLW). Winter linseed variety Alpaga was partly drilled on the 19th of September with John Deere 750A.
The remaining 25ha is yet to be drilled due to heavy rain, it is planned to be drilled by the end of the week (6th October).
Premium Crops have established a network of Sencrop weather stations at our Montor Farm locations. The weather stations provide a live-feed of the rainfall and temperature at each site. The details recorded at Dunsden Green Farm from 18th Sept to the 16th April 2020 are given below...