The first nitrogen fertiliser applications started going on to backward oilseed rape crops this week, according to FWi’s team of agronomists.

Tod Hunnisett in Hampshire said crops were completely different to their forward state this time last year and many were receiving their sulphur/ nitrogen dose now. “I have no crops that are too forward for early nitrogen.”

But it was a different story for many wheats, he added. “We have had an unbelievably mild and wet January and forward crops are now looking uncomfortably strong. I’ll certainly be holding-off any nitrogen on these crops until mid-March.”

Fertiliser spreaders would be moving into backward oilseed rape and wheat this week in North Yorkshire, Patrick Stephenson said. “Crops which are badly grazed by vermin will receive some genuine TLC with 125kg/ha product this month and next. Sulphur is now a standard application, in this dressing for rape and some cereals.”

Recent frosts had helped suppress diseases, such as mildew, which had got established in wheat and barley, he noted.

Shropshire-based Bryce Rham said quite a few oilseed rape crops would receive early nitrogen this spring due to their backward nature, but applications would probably wait until the end of February.

Severe frosts in the region had brought spraying to a halt, but P&K fertiliser applications should be ok, he said.

Fertiliser had gone onto some oilseed rape crops in Suffolk, Frontier’s Brian Ross said. “Amounts have been kept fairly low because it could still get cold.”

He, and several other agronomists pointed out that phoma had started to reappear in oilseed rape and small, backward crops could need treating.

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