Recent showery weather has been a blessing for all crops; spring crop establishment has improved and all crops are now well watered, well fed and growing well as warmer temperatures prevail.

Crops look more even with good colour as they utilise the applied nitrogen; most fertiliser applications are now complete with the exception of late N on the milling wheats and some oilseed rape.

Mid-September sown wheat’s now have emerging flag leafs and the next fungicide spray (T2) is imminent (three weeks from a well-timed T1). Plant stand varies between crops, thicker early to mid-September sown crops look very well but a few are a little thinner than I would like to see (mainly as a result of the dry early spring), some of these are also relatively short.

Despite dry conditions in early spring and robust T0 and T1 mixes careful disease management is extremely important. My advice is to keep fungicide timings tight and sprays robust, currently the lower canopy (final leaf 4) is often surprisingly dirty with coalescing, aggressive looking lesions.

As many have already commented in thin short canopies lesions on the lower canopy can more easily infect the emerging, yield building leaves quickly. More positively so far well timed programmes are controlling yellow rust well.

Flag leaf emergence is the last opportunity to control wild oats, complete late  plant growth regulator applications and control late emerging broad leaved weeds (particularly relevant in thinner crops).

After the rains post emergence herbicides in beet began to work well. Most crops are now relatively clean, but continuation of programmes is necessary to maintain control of late weed flushes until canopy closure. However, now broad-leaved weed control is in hand we can pause to slip in a graminicide as appropriate.

Most beans (spring and winter) look well; however, pea and bean weevil remain active. Winter beans have received the first fungicide at early to mid-flowering (based on cyproconazole + chlorothalonil) as chocolate spot begins to develop low in the canopy.

Now for a bit of counselling; if growing “difficult blackgrass”, brace yourself as crops are about to show their public display of uncontrolled grassweeds. Remember you are not alone, consider your rotational options but don’t expect to clean up in a single season.

It’s a war of attrition; this year in spring drilled crops I have noticed a big difference in black-grass emergence, later drilled crops seem much cleaner than those drilled at the earliest opportunity.