Here in the East the weather is, as per usual, the main topic of conversation. Recent showers were certainly needed, the question is whether we have had or will have enough to satisfy the requirements of our crops.
Winter wheats are between T1 and T2 spray timings. Whilst most crops are short and require no further growth regulation, there is the odd early drilled first wheat that has required further shortening with a late PGR product.
Septoria is in the base of most canopies and must not be ignored; rain splash will spread spores to infect upper leaves. Crops remain visibly healthy during the latent period, which in current temperatures will be around one month long, hence the need to maintain robust rates of fungicides at flag leaf.
Rain will see winter barleys moving quickly towards T2. Aim to apply just as the ear is visible, to ensure that the awns, the barley equivalent of wheats flag leaf in terms of yield contribution, are fully treated. Low levels of powdery mildew and brown rust can be found and rain is likely to encourage further disease development.
Take the opportunity in both wheat and barley of a smaller tank mix at T2 to apply a dose of manganese and magnesium – both essential for photosynthesis.
Spring barleys established well, but have been in desperate need of some rain. Where poorly tillered consider an early PGR and rolling. Apply manganese to known deficient fields or as soon as crops start to pale. Crops should have received their total dose of nitrogen by now and hopefully the rain will begin to get this working.
Pollen beetle never got a look in on oilseed rape thanks to an even start to flowering. The next pest on the radar is seed weevil. Resist the temptation to apply an insecticide with sclerotinia fungicides unless weevil can be found and pods have formed in the crop. Monitor regularly and spray if the threshold of one weevil per plant has been reached.
Sugar beet crops are around the 2–4 true leaf stage. Some difficult herbicide decisions have had to be made due to high weed pressure coupled with frosty nights, bright days, dry seed-beds and wind-blow. Crop damage has likely been caused by frost and herbicide applications in equal measure. Knotgrass has been the worst problem – the worst field for this weed will have received four post–emergence herbicide applications by now.