Agronomy Update – June 2020

In this blog, Agrochemical & Technical Director David Cairns provides a snapshot of what has gone on with the main crops he’s looking after in North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. 

Since the last written update I provided at the end of May, we have received some much-needed rainfall – around 40-50mm. Although this is very late into the growing season, it has ensured that the crops should get some grain fill and has slowed them down by alleviating stress.

Winter Barley

Crops are turning relatively hard now and I would anticipate seeing the first winter barley being cut in middle of July. The grain set looks good with big ears; just a shortage of shoots at this current time.

Winter Wheat

Wheat has a great ability to compensate and a lot of crops have produced large ears with good, well-set grains and, given that green leaf retention is generally good top to bottom, these crops should fill well and yield okay.

Varietal differences are showing up noticeably in untreated areas with Yellow Rust not following the rule book, meaning we all need to be on our guard for future seasons.

A lot of growers are planning early drilling campaigns and subsequent management needs to be tailored to that, not least developing a robust grass weed control programme incorporating cultural controls.

Oilseed Rape

We’re monitoring crops regularly now for desiccation, although timing will be quite difficult to judge this season given unevenness in fields. But effective timing with pod sealant and Glyphosate is critical for seed maturity.

Spring Barley

Crops are all now fully in ear with very varying yield potentials. Disease is relatively low and we’re now just hoping for a good grain fill period.

If you’re interested in our Spring Barley updates, please visit our YouTube channel, where we offer short video updates on the progress of the Spring Barley at our Crop Trials site in Beal, Northumberland, throughout the growing season.


I think many of us will be looking forward to seeing this season end for arable cropping for various reasons. But, as always, there will be lessons to be learned with what has worked and also what hasn’t.

The focus now is on careful planning to ensure our harvest 2021 crops get off to the best start.

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