What a difference a couple of weeks make. Our days are lengthening visibly now and, despite sporadic frosts, temperatures are building nicely and crops are growing away strongly. Our early fertiliser dressings are in full swing, together with winter post-emergence sprays to hit any surviving blackgrass. And we’re gearing-up for T0 fungicide and PGR spraying, too.

After all the pre-Christmas delays, it’s good to have had conditions that finally allow us to get on with the Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron). Solid pre-planting glyphosate control followed by robust pre-emergence programmes have allowed us to keep well on top of blackgrass for the most part.

But wherever it’s still a problem we’re putting on full rate Atlantis with Biopower plus extra adjuvant for penetration and water conditioning. This combination has given a valuable 2-3% extra control in some of our trials.

In addition to the usual amount of Septoria, there’s certainly a lot more mildew about in both wheat and barley this year. It’s affecting all varieties but shouldn’t be a problem with our good strong, healthy crops. We’re keeping a careful eye on more backward ones that could suffer badly, though.

Most of our wheats will be getting a triazole plus chlorothalonil at T0, so we’ll be adding a mildewicide wherever we have any doubt to nip problems in the bud.

Thankfully, there’s little evidence of yellow rust as yet. With the additional flexibility a T0 gives our T1 and T2 timings, we should be able to keep a tight lid on the obvious threat this poses; especially now we have the new SDHI chemistry in our locker.

In general, our winter oilseed rape is looking good too, with phoma well-controlled by autumn spraying.  Growth Area Indexes, however, are all over the place –  ranging from virtually zero in less well-established crops where pigeons have had a field day to 2.0 with better-grown, faster-developing hybrids.

N-Mins are fairly average overall, but immediately available nitrogen levels are definitely low. So we’ve been prioritising applications of 50-80 kg/ha nitrogen over the past two weeks (in combination with sufficient sulphur) to ensure the 3.5 GAI canopies we want.

Being generally clean, our more forward crops will be getting a PGR-focused fungicide before the end of the month. We’ll combine this with a mix of boron, magnesium, manganese and molybdenum plus Nutriphite PGA to maximise root as well as canopy development.