Crops have responded well to recent rainfall with many looking greener and more robust. Whilst the availability of earlier applied nitrogen will improve grain fill, at best we can hope to maximise the remaining potential of each crop.

For milling wheats, assessing the need to apply a top-up of foliar nitrogen is difficult and may ultimately depend on the size of the expected premium. For lower-yielding crops, late nitrogen uptake may be enough to ensure that the required grain protein is achieved. However, higher-yielding milling wheats are more likely to require a top of foliar nitrogen to achieve specification, which can be applied until milky ripe.

Aphid colonies are present in both wheat and pulses. At the moment, populations in wheat are relatively low with an abundance of predators in many crops.  However, keep an eye on these populations as they could build quickly and move on to the ear if temperatures warm up. In pulses, if a second fungicide is outstanding check whether an additional aphicide is also required.

In sugar beet, this season’s weather patterns have also triggered early reports of powdery mildew and Silver Y Moth, both adults and caterpillars. The BBRO Advisory Bulletin provides good warning of these pests but keep an eye on your own crops. The general consensus seems that the established threshold of five caterpillars per plant is too high, especially on smaller beet.

Many of you will be visiting variety demonstrations during the next month and selecting wheat varieties for sowing this autumn. This season, the market split is more diverse as no single variety dominates. For all crops, disease resistance is an important consideration, but most weaknesses can be managed and for many growers it is margin over fungicide costs that count.

Just a small word of warning – remember the yellow rust concerns at the beginning of the season. We have been fortunate that the weather, good management and an abundance of spray days have kept this disease in check. Growers should consider limiting their area of yellow rust susceptible varieties to a size that can be sprayed within three days, allowing for some unsettled weather.