Wheels have been turning as growers pick away at drilling and fertilising jobs, depending on local showers and field conditions. Cool conditions look set to continue into early April steadying, emergence and crop growth; mid-September sown wheats are now at early stem extension (GS 30, final leaf 4 emerging).  More forward wheats are moving closer emergence of leaf 3.

Cooler conditions have also slowed disease development. Thankfully we have saved on fungicide costs, as fewer pre-T0 sprays have been being applied than predicted based on how dirty crops looked coming out of the winter. However, there is plenty of septoria inoculum on the older leaves, which will be encouraged by warming temperatures and forecast showers.

Rust infections which had quietened are now reappearing on a wide range of varieties. Well-timed, robust T0 and T1 applications will be important to protect the emerging leaves and to prevent these diseases moving up the canopy. Septoria is the most important disease to manage, but at these early timings don’t forget to address other issues such as mildew, eyespot and possibly take-all.

The slower pace of crop growth during March, leading to a relative slow start to the fungicide programme, has meant that fungicide timings and crop development could well fit within a three week spray schedule.

Most T0 fungicide mixes include plant growth regulators; hopefully night temperatures will warm for more effective chlormequat applications. A cooler season provides a good reason to split these applications between T0 and T1.

Cold conditions have delayed pea drilling, which should continue in earnest this week. The same can be said for beet drilling on heavier, wet land where seed-bed preparation has required patience.

Heavy land growers are urged to be vigilant, as slug populations may be high. Crops will be most susceptible from chitting to expanded cotyledon (one munch and the plant is lost!). Lighter land beet crops are now emerging and will receive their first post-emergence herbicide sprays soon.

Hooray! As new growth emerges, winter barleys are looking green again! Winter barley T1 fungicides and early plant growth regulators should be applied at early stem extension (now).

Old mildew infections and rust are easily found although net blotch and rhynchosporium infection remains low. Spring herbicide control in barley should be completed before the crop meets in the row and shades target weeds.

Oilseed rape crops are a mixed bag depending on pigeon and flea beetle attack. Keep an eye on pollen beetle; migration from hibernating grounds has been slow, but as temperatures warm up numbers may increase rapidly.

More forward crops are already flowering and at lower risk, but backwards crops at green bud – of which there are many – could be at risk. Non-pyrethroid options such as thiacloprid (for example, Biscaya) pymetrozine (for example, Plenum) and indoxacarb (for example, Rumo) are essential where populations are above threshold before flowering. Check individual product labels for the latest timing and number of applications.

Winter and spring beans should be monitored for leaf notching by adult pea and bean weevils. In cooler conditions, slow growing spring crops are at greatest risk.