We’ve just had a week of dry weather and what a huge difference it has made. A cold dry wind has dried soils very quickly, it’s hard to believe we were still under snow at the start of the month.

Fertiliser spreaders have been busy and most cereals will now have received their first application of nitrogen plus sulphur. Spring barley drilling is well under way in the earlier areas and this week should see most others catching up.

Seedbeds may be cooler than normal at this time but soil conditions look excellent, do aim to get some N, P & K into the seedbed before drilling to maximise efficiency of availability of the nutrients.

As ever oilseed rape shows the greatest variation between fields. Over the last month or so we’ve had significant frost without snow cover and small canopies have literally shrunk nearly out of sight from the field gate. Those established by early September are looking well and should soon begin moving more rapidly.

Where mayweeds, thistles or cleavers are a problem consider Galera once we get warmer conditions and the advantage of canopy growth to add the competiton factor. If no light leaf spot fungicide was applied in the autumn then plan an application as soon as some new growth is seen.

Given the weather this winter it’s not surprising many winter cereals are looking rather ragged. Last year at this time we had the carryover of damage from a wet establishment in autumn 2008 but on walking crops this spring soils are in very good condition so we begin this year from a very good platform.

Thoughts of T0 sprays are some time away, but we need to keep a close eye on crops as growth eventually begins. Don’t forget about brome grasses and be prepared to take action when conditions allow.