A new year, but not a lot has happened on the crops as yet, apart from, that is, the weather.

In this part of the world we have had quite a lot of snow which has been a blessing as far as the very forward crops of rape are concerned. Several years ago we had not only severe cold temperatures, but a lot more snow than this year. However, the severe cold had weakened the forward crops so much that the rape collapsed and suffered from snow rot.

This year however, the snow came before the severe cold and acted as an insulating layer so no collapsing rape. In fact, most crops at the moment look very well.

Weed control in rape has in the main been very good, but I do have some crops with very large runch and very small rape plants. Control of these weeds is unlikely to be very good even though Fox’s (bifenox) ability to give reasonable control of charlock when used in a programme for cranesbill. Runch is much more hairy than charlock and so is a problem.

As Phoma took such a long time to appear on small crops in the autumn, it has meant that planned applications to these crops has not gone on with the arrival of the poor weather. Walking these crops after the snow went briefly has shown that the need to apply the phoma spray is urgent, as the small rape plants have not grown away so are at risk of phoma and indeed will be until they start to grow away.

Light leaf spot has not been so apparent as it was last year certainly in this area.

Thoughts turn to N applications and soil mineral N cores are being taken as I write this.

The consensus is that with the high yielding crops last year and the warm autumn will mean low amounts of N in the soil and N applications will need to be properly planned, bearing in mind the new Nitrate Vulnerable Zone rules and maximum N limits.