Adas reported "general optimism" over prospects for the UK
wheat crop despite the spread of black-grass, affecting more than half of
crops, and pressure from fungal diseases too.
Most cereals and rapeseed crops are "in good condition" in the
UK, the European Union's third-ranked rapeseed and wheat producer, the
For winter wheat, which accounts for the vast majority of
the UK wheat crop, "there is general optimism that yield potential is good",
thanks to "good plant populations, low soil moisture deficits and recent
brighter weather", which had arrived in time for the important grain-filling
With high yields often implying lower protein levels, many
farmers have also been using the drier spell late in June to apply nitrogen to
The upbeat sentiment defies the spread of slender meadow
foxtail – an annual grass better known to farmers as black-grass – through
crops to such a level that "58% of the UK wheat area" contains the weed.
Some 22% of UK wheat crops will suffer a yield loss of at
least 5%, while a small amount of badly affected crop, about 9,000 hectares, is
expected to be destroyed in an effort to prevent the black grass setting seeds
for next year.
"In parts of the east and Midlands, black-grass is clearly
evident above the crop canopy," Adas said.
"In the south and east of England, black-grass control has
been poor in many crops," hampered in part by wetter weather early in the
season which hampered field work, if boosting soil moisture reserves.
The spread of black-grass, also evident in 35% of UK barley
fields, has been blamed in part on bans on some herbicides for environmental
reasons, but also to the plant becoming resistant to some sprays.
The consultancy also highlighted "high pressure" from Septoria
tritici, a fungus which causes leaf blotch, thanks to this damp weather.
Pressure from yellow rust, another fungal infection was
deemed high too, with Adas also noting growing evidence of fusarium blight.
The UK wheat crop is widely expected to show a marked improvement
this year on the 2013 results, with the US Department of Agriculture pegging
the harvest at 15.15m tonnes, a jump of 27%.