It’s been a dry start. Despite dry soils, growers have forged ahead with rapeseed drilling and in the main seed-beds have adequate tilth and the seed is well covered. As crops begin to emerge slowly some seed remains dormant waiting for rain; thankfully there’s little evidence of chitted seed that has struggled and died.

Those who have delayed early residual herbicides because of the dry conditions should be ready to apply these soon after most of the crop reaches the expanded cotyledon stage – before weed emergence.

As cereal volunteers become competitive, aim to take them out swiftly with the first contact graminicide; this may be necessary soon, particularly where the crop follows barley.

Where relevant these graminicides can be mixed with the post-emergence spray, but always check product labels for compatibility. Following rain, struggling rapeseed will appreciate 30kgN/ha.

Despite dry conditions there is some evidence of slug grazing. Fieldsshould be monitored for the pests’ activity from drilling to the twotrue leaf stage and pellets applied as and when necessary. Remembermetaldehyde stewardship guidelines and manage applications so that themaximum dose and number of applications for individual products are notexceeded.

Focus on achieving good seed-beds for winter cereals which are evermore important as grassweed control becomes more challenging. Residualpre-emergence herbicides work best on fine, moist, friable seed-beds.

Fields with a history of moderate to heavy blackgrass infestationshould receive a pre- or peri-emergence application which includesflufenacet (eg Crystal and Liberator).