Here in the East we have seen just four days without rain so far this year. Nothing torrential, but it has brought total rainfall figures for January up to between 85-100mm. Therefore conversations on farm are generally centred on speculating as to when we’ll manage to get back onto the fields this spring.

Every year when land drains start to work hard we are reminded of how important it is to maintain this fundamental component of crop production. Of course high flows from well drained areas can mean nutrient loss and flooding downstream; posing the ongoing question of what actions we will need to take in future to counteract this increasingly topical issue.

In oilseed rape crops late autumn propyzamide applications are visibly working, but taking their time on grassweeds. And don’t put your gun away now that the season is over – we will need to turn our attention to pigeons as they begin to flock up and still have the potential to cause problems.

Manganese deficiency is showing up in cereal crops and is exacerbated when combined with waterlogged soils. Wheats are, as predicted, suffering from disease after the mild autumn and winter. Yellow rust and mildew pustules as well as septoria on the older leaves of some crops means that an early fungicide (weather permitting) is likely to be required. Many Winter Barley crops are lush and well tillered; perhaps too much so going into the spring.

The final yields of many sugar beet crops in this area have been far better than expected after some initial concerns earlier in the growing season.

I’m checking that farms have got their Soil Protection Review up to date at the moment; when you receive your A4 RPA letter with the supplementary sheet for 2014 make sure you add it to the original document before it gets lost in a pile of other, ‘important information’!

All in all the prospects look good for this year at present, but a lot can happen before harvest!