Crops struggle in dry September weather

A dry September has caused difficulties for planting and establishing field-grown crops, and brought pests and diseases such as spider mite and powdery mildew to the fore, according to nursery consultant John Adlam.

Image: Morguefile
Image: Morguefile

Last month was the driest September since records began, with just one-fifth of normal September rainfall, and it came after the wettest January-August on record.

"The soil has been dry," said Adlam. "It's been quite difficult to get the soil broken down for autumn crops such as roses and fruit tree rootstock. Establishment of newly planted crops has been of concern and required irrigation to ensure settlement of soil for establishment."

Spider mite has thrived and late establishing powdery mildew has been a problem, as has rust on crops such as willow, hypericum, hollyhocks and mint. Reservoirs were generally quite low and those recycling water are seeing the benefits, he added.

Forecast frosts mean growers of crops such as natural season chrysanthemums need to use fleece, said Adlam. He added that growing media is still releasing nutrients because it remains warm and that means crops are still growing, with frost threatening soft new growth.

Autumn colour is likely to be strong but the late onset of the season means leaf fall might happen all at once, causing issues for railways.

Bransford Webbs managing director Geoff Caesar said he has had notice to stop extracting water from the river but "it's not a problem at this time of the year".

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