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UK Winter Cereal Crops Do Well Despite Unusual Year

03 July 2012

UK & IRELAND - Cereals in major regions of the UK keep a higher-than-normal green biomass despite the tough weather conditions they have been subject to.

However, disease pressure is expected to be high, given the continued rainfall, with an additional uncertainty on how it will managed. In Ireland, low sunshine throughout the season may be limiting the potential of winter crops.

Overall, the period from May 20th till June 15th has been characterized by a set of 10 hot and relatively dry days, followed by a much wetter period of 10 days. In Ireland, a considerable amount of rainfall has contributed to bring back the cumulated rainfall since the beginning of the year close to the long term average.

Cumulated global radiation, however, remains considerably below average, which may be the reason why simulated potential leaf area index (LAI) for winter cereals is below average. In the UK, cumulated rainfall, temperatures and radiation are all above average.

The crop growth model simulations indicate winter crops remaining slightly in advance with respect to normal conditions and with the peak of potential LAI reaching higher values than normal in most of England (with the exception of the South- West). End of May provided an opportunity to have cloud-free remote sensing observations that confirmed an above-average green biomass peak.

The lush vegetation, in combination with considerable precipitation and a preceding warm winter, indicates a strong disease pressure on the winter crops. Since there are many days with considerable rainfall, spraying against diseases is bound to be uneven from farm to farm, which may result in a high variability of yields. Nevertheless, the yield outlook remains positive.

Winter rapeseed appears to have had an extended flowering period that will cause a spread in maturity dates, complicating harvest. Flowering was dominated by rain, hampering pollination and further increasing yield uncertainty despite favourable biomass accumulation. Potatoes and sugarbeet, being within the normal range of growth and development according to crop simulations, would benefit from more sunshine in this early phase.

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