Despite the harsh winter, crops in my area are looking positively healthy and almost like they are growing. For a number of crops, I managed to get an autumn application of manganese on and this is really showing now in terms of crop health.

Over the last two seasons, we have seen exceptionally dry springs. So I am advising growers to get an application of nitrogen on cereals early, but not exceeding 40-50kg/ha. This is to ensure we get maximum tiller retention, and to limit the amount of leachable nitrogen in the soil profile. I would rather see nitrogen go on at three splits to get the best product efficiency.

For crop protection, there is no activity at the moment other than people planning their fungicide regimes for this season and where they are maybe going to fit the new SDHI chemistry in.

Wheat bulb fly egg hatch warnings are now starting to creep in to this area and a risk assessment should be done on vulnerable fields to determine if an application of chlorpyrifos is required, although this will be very dependent on ground conditions allowing any travel. Also remember if applying chlorpyrifos to observe any restrictions on subsequent grassweed control options.

Any ground that is to go into spring cropping is now mostly ploughed and seed planned. We are seeing a big demand for Concerto spring barley seed this season. It looks a very promising variety, both agronomically and to the end user. Spring beans look like being a very reduced area, but not really surprising due to the level of oilseed rape planted last autumn.

As always at this time of year, it is all about planning so when season begins we are ready so it’s a good time to make sure fertiliser spreader and sprayer are calibrated and ready for when spring is in the air.