By the time you read this then most T2 fungicides will have been applied to wheat crops with good potential. The steady rain and warm weather has allowed crops to develop rapidly, although for some crops the rain came as T2s were due, resulting in extended intervals from T1 allowing disease to develop. With brown rust creeping into a few crops prior to T2, careful monitoring will be required to keep on top of disease. As wheat starts to flower we hope for a dry period, however, if the weather is unsettled we should focus on the more susceptible varieties as a priority, experience from 2012 should help with this. Late germinating broad-leaved weeds and wild oats in the base of the crop has also resulted in last minute herbicide additions to some T2 recommendations.
Driving around the countryside it is clear to see that many are suffering from poor blackgrass control and whatever the reason for the poor control, the areas need to be marked on a map and we need to think about alternative ways of managing the problem. It is clear that we cannot just keep doing the same things and trying to spray our way out of the problem. Where weeds have survived a herbicide programme, these areas should be sprayed off to prevent any seed return. As well as known problem areas there are also sprayer misses (see below) and these should be controlled to prevent seed return to otherwise clean fields. Once problem areas are identified then time should be spent considering the cultural control options and how they may fit within the wider farming business.
Bruchid beetle in beans and orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) in wheat will be carefully monitored over the next few weeks, as the warm sunny weather is likely to encourage activity.
Spring crops have also established well considering the dry start to the spring with sugar beet getting away after a patchy start and following two closely applied herbicides, fields are very clean. Spring barley also looks very well following a difficult start and as with all crops, is currently showing good potential. It is a long way until harvest, but the countryside is looking in good shape.