Growers who had the patience to wait for rain before attempting to drill into dry cloddy seed beds were rewarded with 20mm of rain on 6 October.

These winter cereal crops were drilled into ideal seed-beds and with warm soil temperatures and moisture, it has not taken them long to emerge. All crops drilled at this time have been treated with a pre-emergence herbicide, based around flufenacet.

Where blackgrass resistance is known, programmes have started with tri-allate as the base, followed by flufenacet mixtures. Where the variety is not sensitive, chlorotoluron has been added.

Winter cereal crops drilled before the rain, and where moisture was not retained, are at various degrees of emergence making herbicide decisions quite interesting.

Slug activity has been low, however with some moisture available slug eggs may be encouraged to hatch.

Therefore, any areas where the seed-bed is far from ideal will need tobe monitored. Hopefully this year will see a large reduction in the useof slug pellets, thus preserving product availability.

Deter seed dressing has been the best investment so far, avoiding theneed to use an aphicide. As crops are at different grow stages thiswould have been challenging.

Some parts of fields have been up for three weeks and some have notemerged. Crops like this will probably require further insecticideapplications, which from an environmental view is not ideal.

So far, the only disease found on winter wheat is mildew and this is ondrought-stressed land. Oilseed rape crops have responded well tomoisture and autumn-applied nitrogen. Unlike last year, many crops willbe treated with a growth regulating fungicide, tank mixed with a phomaand light leaf spot product.

Autumn-applied herbicides appear to have worked extremely well,particularly where they have been tank mixed with a graminicide. Themetazachlor plus Aramo ( tepraloxydim) have worked well on emergedblackgrass. Most crops will have more than nine leaves, which is thecut off point for Aramo use.

At present high soil temperatures and lack of soil moisture arepreventing any applications of propyzamide and carbetamide-basedproducts.