A long spell of good application days has enabled growers to keep pace with the planned fertiliser and spray regimes. However, spring seed-beds are dry and emerging crops are desperately in need a good soak.

Particularly concerning are the many beet crops, where emergence is uneven and chitted seed is lying in dry, cloddy soil. Where beet emergence is uneven and “difficult” weeds like knot grass are already growing, start the herbicide programme with product combinations that can be safely applied at emergence. It’s important not to let these weeds get away.

Thankfully, the T0 fungicide on winter wheat has been well timed. Disease pressure is high; we are already seeing heavy infections of septoria on final leaf 5 (this leaf was often clean in treated crops at the end of last season). As septoria infection is already higher up the plant, lesions can rub against the emerging leaf, transferring infection without a major rain splash event. At T0 aggressive yellow rust infections were also apparent on most varieties that had not been previously treated. Recent sprays and tight timings between the next robust sprays should allow control of both diseases, but it’s going to be a battle!

Forward crops will be approaching the T1 fungicide timing – usually emergence of final leaf 3. Robust treatments are essential; this year I am using more material than before. Partly due to high disease pressure, but also because the drift in sensitivity of septoria to triazoles is now evident in the field.

Forward oilseed rape crops are a deep yellow and many will be receiving a fungicide at early to mid-flowering, with a view that the flowering period will be long and a follow up spray will be required later. Treatments are mainly protectant, so we are trying to coat petals before they fall. Warmer weather and a more unsettled forecast has increased the sclerotinia risk and as yield potential is promising, it seems important to chase this potential.

Check bean crops for pea and bean weevil damage, many winter beans are now at early flower and will shortly be receiving the first fungicide treatment.