I am slightly surprised to come back from the lush, sunny Dordogne to the East Anglian “Sahara”, which was quickly evident in the noise and dust of farm machinery.

Rape that went in three weeks ago has generally come up well and is now at three to six leaves. But slightly later drillings are struggling in the dry. This has meant many planned sprays haven’t gone on yet, be they pre or post-emergence.

Volunteer barley, however, is growing well and is being taken out now as the shading on the smaller rape plants will not help.

Slugs are not a problem, but flea beetle is having to be addressed even where seed dressings were used, particularly on very small uneven stands.

There appears to be quite a lot of leaf miner damage and a report of turnip sawfly in a crop north of Norwich.

One forward crop also has some phoma appearing though conditions forspore release have not been fulfilled. Trash maybe? Blackgrass isbeginning to appear in some fields even if the rape isn’t.

Winter cereal drilling is very much a mixed bag. Some crops are at twoto three leaves, some have been drilled into dust and won’t appearuntil it rains, and many fields are being left due to the poor state ofthe seed-bed. Phone calls are mainly to ask “should I or should I notapply herbicides?”

That will depend on the crop being grown and the main problem weeds it will have.

There is going to be a big push this autumn on the update seminars forthe PA4 slug pellet certification scheme, to help reduce the occurrenceof metaldehyde in water, More details will emerge over the coming weeks.