It’s the time of year when I am busy making plans for the growing season ahead.  There are many variables to consider, with the crops in the ground we need to be sure that we have a sufficient plant population, be it oilseed rape or cereals to make the crop economically viable

There are a few very thin crops of wheat out there, if these crops did not receive any autumn herbicides or insecticides and are full of challenging blackgrass we must consider all options. Spraying off with roundup may be the best option.  This will create an opportunity to control blackgrass and maybe an early entry into winter OSR. 

Where I am seeing thin, backward crops without significant challenging weed burdens I am encouraging responsible levels of early nitrogen fertiliser.  I had planned to encourage early growth in both OSR and winter cereal with an application of straight nitrogen, followed by a sulphur nitrogen product.  As time passes it is looking increasingly likely the first pass will now include sulphur.

There is a good argument for spring applied P and K this year on winter cereal crops.  If the soil P and K indices are below 2, complex compounds such as 16-16-16 NPK could provide a much needed boost. 

According to the HGCA wheat growth guide, we only have nine more weeks to get the desired amount of tillers to maximise yield, so the crops need to be pushed at the first opportunity.  Use your FACTs advisor more than you ever have before, it will pay dividends as there is a lot at stake!

Wheat bulb fly is a hot topic at present, because of the difficult growing season and backward crops I will be treating most “at risk” fields with an egg hatch spray.  Experience has taught that WBF can hatch rapidly after a cold spell, so we need to be prepared. I hope the sprayers can travel. 

We must be mindful of the chlorpyrifos stewardship plan, and use LERAP 3 star low drift nozzels and adopt a 20m buffer strip near water courses.  Spring cereals seed being drilled after potatoes and sugar beet should be treated with Austral plus.