Drilled-up and sprayed-up – nearly. Ground is fairly soft after about 70mm rain during October, but mostly still just about fit to travel. It’s actually been quite demanding on the spraying front because most of the early cereal sowings – which had a pre-emergence herbicide – have required a small top-up and insecticide. Aphids have been easy to find on stubbles and in traps, so must be presumed to present high risk of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) to cereals.

Results so far are good – for the easy weeds. However, the more difficult ones – the ryegrasses and bromes – have also prospered in the outstanding growing conditions and there’s now quite a bit of activity chasing these up. This week will probably be too cold and so we are hoping that it returns to milder conditions soon and allows effective treatments in the few problem situations. We seem to have escaped the worst of the frit fly attack on wheats after oats but there will surely be lots of gout fly in both wheat and barleys and this may be a problem in the spring.

Oilseed rape is amazing; strong plants and minimal disease. Root fly damage is localised and severe in places, so we expect to lose a fair proportion of plants in winter, but its something we’ll have to live with – so long as we don’t lose whole crops. Where we are planning propyzamide treatments, it looks like cold weather this week should get soil temperatures low enough to allow applications to commence. Disease is not an issue and we’re not going to throw money away on crops that clearly don’t need it.

The great fertiliser stand-off continues, with the enormous mis-match in values of urea versus ammonium nitrate. Given that farmers aren’t exactly feeling flush this autumn, its set to continue for a good while yet.  And since most are nearly worked-up, it looks like being an early pantomime season while we see if it swings one way or the other; but something has to give.  Oh yes it will……