At last there is some warmth in the sun, though night temperatures are still below freezing. Dry fields are giving an ideal opportunity for applications of early nitrogen and P&K fertilisers.

Crop growth is barely evident, so nitrogen will not be taken up yet. But in dry conditions there is no danger of leaching and the fertiliser will sit there until needed.

In a “normal” year, T0 fungicides would be applied about 20 March, but with slow growth so far this year it’s likely to be pushed back towards the end of March/early April. It is still too cold for Atlantis application and this may eventually coincide with T0 spraying. If so take note of the Bayer recommendations on tank mixes.

Where over-wintered meadowgrasses and broadleaved weeds are the target in wheat, conditions are suitable for the use of Othello, though in some cases, where weed size permits, it may be sensible to wait for spring weed germination and control all with one spray.

Pigeons are still hitting rape crops and it is important to keep them off at this stage. Hard grazing now will reduce yields through damage to the growing point. There is press talk about light leaf spot, but so far, phoma seems to be the only disease present.

Charlock in rape can be sprayed now, using bifenox, which gives a useful suppression if not complete kill. It is too early to attack cleavers with Galera as the weeds are still frost-hardened and woody. When crop growth does start in earnest, it is likely to be rapid and there will only be a brief opportunity for Galera application.

Spring-drilling of beans and barley has continued in the past week. There are few options for post-emergence meadowgrass and broadleaved weed control in beans, so it is better to spray pre-emergence. Barley also is better treated pre-emergence, but we are reliant on rainfall to make these pre-emergence herbicides work.