The after effects of the mild and wet winter currently prevail here in the East:
Yellow Rust (yes, I have joined in the broken-record brigade), the subject of our nightmares in 2012, is back. As in 2012, looking forward to our fungicide strategy this season we will all need to be as regimental as possible in sticking to tight intervals between applications. Susceptible crops had a pre-T0 (please will someone decide what we call this timing?!) and many will have received a T1 this week too. With disease levels and current fungicide strategy costings in mind, now is a good time to start looking at the crops in the ground with a view to planning which varieties to grow next season.
Seed-beds have also been tricky so far this spring. Some growers on heavy land have tried to break through the hard crust to dry the soil beneath. Others are cutting seed in direct to retain moisture, aware of the lack of rain in the forecast. The one thing they have in common is jealousy of their neighbours on lighter land who have had an easier time of it.
Sugar beet in particular needs close attention where less-than-ideal seed-beds are causing an uneven chit. Dry, cloddy conditions are not ideal for a residual herbicide application pre-emergence, but in these cases it will be well worth watching the forecast and considering applications if we do get a rain before the crop emerges.
Oilseed rape crops have caused some debate in terms of their requirements for N this spring. In this generally flat part of the world, it is the odd field on a slope that shows the true state of many crops: from this angle drill lines can still be seen due to a distinct lack of side branching. This season an application of a foliar feed such as Oilseed Extra at petal fall to top up N in the plant, allowing it to continue photosynthesising and maximise pod fill, would be well worth considering. At this post-stem extension timing application of N will not increase lodging risk, either.
Nonetheless, while we work to remedy these effects of the wet winter, in some areas a rain is urgently required already.