T2 fungicide applications in winter wheat began around 10 days ago on the most forward crops and applications have continued from this point onward as the flag leaves have emerged and unrolled enough to obtain good coverage of the leaf.

With the recent rain early this week and depending on the T1 product and interval from T1, dose rates should be reviewed so that any delay due to the weather is accounted for with a robust rate of SDHI chemistry. Generally crops are fairly clean with Skyfall proving to be very clean top to bottom.

On the majority of varieties the top 4 leaves are clean, but septoria can easily be found in the base on leaves 5 and 6, which may well have rubbed on upper leaves or splashed up the crop and due to the latent phase of septoria in the plant, we are unlikely to see the effect of this yet, especially on the more open crops. In many cases broad-leaved weed herbicides have been added, with fools parsley, groundsel, bindweed and cleavers the main weeds emerging.

Winter beans are now well into flower and we will be keeping a close eye on the Bruchidcast (on Syngenta’s website) in an attempt to try and suppress the damage caused by bruchid beetle. The optimum timing is to target the adults and this is best achieved once we receive two consecutive days at or above 20C after the first pods have set, with a follow up treatment seven days later. This is intended to target the adults prior to eggs being laid and is the best chance we have of trying to prevent the damage caused.

Spring beans are also growing well despite the relentless attack from weevils, feels very much like a repeat of the autumn!

Spring crops have all established well, with Spring barley receiving the rain just at the right time. Most crops have now received their herbicide and first fungicide and although blackgrass is also present, due to the good establishment crop competition should hopefully help in the battle. Also, in many cases the spring barley has been planted on bad blackgrass fields to try and help with control. Despite many stale seed-beds we will still have blackgrass germinating, but this is a several year plan and will not be a one year fix.

Spring planted ahiflower, canary seed and lucerne are also establishing well and will benefit the most from the recent rain. Grass and broad-leaved weed control is underway in these crops, but as they are more niche crops the range of products available to us is quite limited.

With current cropping challenges we are looking to widen rotations and grow alternative crops, but one of the main limiting factors is the range of products available to control weeds, pests and disease. This is obviously an issue in many other crops as more product approvals are removed than are gained. If we are to make a success of growing these alternative crops and reduce weed problems then we need more research, development and product approvals or at least Extensions of Autorisation for Minor Use (EAMUs) to allow this to happen.