As we officially move into winter time and brace ourselves for the big storm, it is quite a relief to have good well established crops going into the winter and it is good to see a green countryside.

Oilseed rape crops have generally established very well in contrast to last year and have been far easier to manage. Phoma has not been too much of a problem due to the dry conditions, although with the recent wet weather lesions can now be found in crops. Due to the low disease pressure Plover (difenoconazole) has been used on most crops with no specific plant growth regulator required. Blackgrass has been a big problem this season in some areas. Crawler (carbetamide) and Centurion Max (clethodim) are being applied with good results and Kerb Flo 500 will follow when soil temperatures are lower.

Wheat drilling has progressed well into generally good seed-beds, with most farms drilled up. Most crops received a pre-emergence herbicide and where it was applied in dry conditions, the recent rainfall has activated the herbicide and we are now seeing cotyledon weeds bleached and dying. Some of the later drilled crops have suffered from the catchy weather and where they have not received a pre-emergence herbicide, the flush of weeds is causing a great concern.

Due to the low dormancy, combined with the wet and warm conditions, blackgrass has germinated very quickly. Where we have significant blackgrass emerged, Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) or Unite (flupyrsulfuron + pyroxsulam) will be applied in a mix with either Auxiliary (clodinafop + prosulfocarb) or pendimethalin as soon as possible whilst the blackgrass is small.

The main concern is the ability to get spraying whilst the blackgrass is still small and more susceptible, as the weather is not helping. As mornings get dewy and days become shorter there may only be an opportunity for a load or two in the middle of the day to ensure herbicides are applied to a dry leaf and have time to dry on the leaf. Soft, lush crops are also a concern with hefty herbicide tank mixes, but in some cases we cannot afford to wait with blackgrass growing away strongly. Also to protect against barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), crops will also receive a Hallmark (lambda-cyhalothrin) whilst conditions remain mild.

Barley has emerged well and after robust pre-emergence applications Axial (pinoxaden) and pendimethalin is due to be applied where blackgrass is still a problem.

After a long period of no spraying, products will now be tank mixed as much as possible as we may not get too many opportunities to travel through the crops.