Drier conditions have enabled good progress with the early spring workload. Soils have been cajoled into decent seed-beds and many spring crops are now drilled, fertilised and sprayed as appropriate. It probably won’t be long until we are asking for some light showers to help establishment.
Anxiety about cold nights and frost are fading as diurnal ranges in temperature become less extreme. Early sprays are on schedule; many grassweed sprays have been applied and now we hold our breath as we wait to see how effective these have been.
Early sown wheats are approaching the T0 timing (ear at 1cm) for growth regulation and fungicides. However, there is no rush to start these sprays, as cool temperatures will moderate growth. Septoria and rust levels are lower compared with last year, but keep an eye on yellow rust as a flush of new growth and warming temperatures could accelerate infection in susceptible crops. This season a T0 based on chlorothalonil and a moderate dose of triazole will be an important tool to manage inoculum in the bottom of the canopy, however, potentially savings can be made compared with last year.
Winter barley early plant growth regulators often mixed with a T0 fungicide should be applied at early stem extension. Spring herbicide control in barley should be completed before the crop meets in the row and shades the target weeds.
Rapeseeds are responding well to the first dose of nitrogen and sulphur. Canopies are generally smaller compared with this time last year, but now we are seeing the benefit of good root systems laid down in autumn. Decisions regarding plant growth regulation will be made over the next fortnight as we move through green the green bud stage.
Light leaf spot (LLS) is being reported and until now, this has been difficult to spot in pigeon grazed crops! If significant levels of LLS are found, prompt treatment with prothioconazole or tebuconazole is required. Weed control for thistles, mayweed and perhaps cleaver suppression should be completed before green buds are raised above the canopy.
Be ready to monitor for pollen beetle as rapeseeds approach green bud and temperatures warm. Beans should be monitored for leaf notching by adult pea and bean weevils. In dry conditions, slow growing spring crops are at greatest risk.