The weather the last couple of weeks has been about as manic as I’ve felt, trying to make it through the week without losing track of where I’m meant to be. Getting busy has meant that caffeine has become my new best friend and a stop to see Paddy at Buzzy Beans with Rob (best coffee in Oxfordshire) is an indispensable start to the day! As I’m getting closer to exams and committing some of what I have been taught to memory, I’m getting tested far more by Roger, Rob and Damian, meaning I’m running on adrenaline as well as caffeine – which it turns out is quite a productive combination.
There is a lot to think about this time of year with the last couple of weeks seeing the team cover stem extension and flowering in OSR, diseases and growth regulation in winter cereals, weed control in winter beans and linseed, fertiliser management, establishment of spring cereals, sugar beet and start of potatoes, just to name a few. Easter falling early this year has allowed myself and most of the team to enjoy a small refresh, before it gets busy busy over the next few weeks, which I am told is a step up from just the busy we are experiencing now (more coffee will be needed!).
It has been heartening to see the beginning of oilseed rape flowering. As well as simply enjoying the yellowing view it’s also symbolic of the fact that I have nearly completed one crops agronomy from start to finish. In contrast, the last couple of weeks have also involved starting from scratch with a couple of new crops and I have felt like I’ve gone right back to the beginning as I have tried to commit to memory sugar beet and potato agronomy, (thanks for your patience Damian). As both crops are only just going into the ground (and are in short supply in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire), I have limited time to get to grips with their establishment, pests, diseases, and general agronomy before my BASIS exam at the beginning of June. I’ve also been practicing my ID skills on the first spring germinating weeds, such as the Orache pictured.
Over the last fortnight many of the winter cereals have reached T0 timing for disease control, which has been an excellent opportunity to practice my dissecting – although I’m still in need of a bit of practice, and probably should credit Rob for this photo… As you can see some of the most forward crops are already heading to GS32, or T1 timing. Everything just happens so quickly this time of year! If we are applying a fungicide at T0 timing we are looking to protect leaf 4 and prevent disease from travelling up the plant to impact on the yield determining leaves (mainly leaf two and flag leaf in wheat). This year has proved a good year for practicing finding disease, with yellow rust in wheat and brown rust in barley being reasonably widespread, meaning it has been key for our agronomists to get a good hold on the diseases early in the season.
Whilst the cold weather has felt slightly harsh compared to the teasing taste of summer before Easter, at least the dry has meant I have had the first couple of days of the year in walking boots rather than wellies. However, what is good for me can be pretty much guaranteed to be the opposite to what the crops need, leaving me torn, half wishing for some spring showers to aid establishment but desperately needing some dry weather to enjoy my limited but all the same exciting newfound freedom to socialise. Although sitting in a park having spent all week in a field trying not to freeze is not necessarily that tempting. Bring on busy busy (and the pubs opening)!