Looking at the forecast as I write this it looks as though the summer may have finally arrived! The cool and overcast conditions have helped crop development as the main shoots have not raced away.

Oilseed rape that has survived has branched well with good pod set, however, the overcast conditions have resulted in quite a protracted flowering period. Most crops have received a second sclerotinia fungicide within 2.5-3 weeks from the first application to ensure continued protection whilst crops are still in flower.

Wheat crops have had time to tiller and some of the side tillers have now caught up with the main shoot, but crop growth is quite variable across farms and indeed fields. The most forward crops are at booting and ear emergence whilst later drilled crops grazed by slugs and rabbits generally have leaf two out and the flag now emerging.

On the backward crops we are monitoring leaf emergence to ensure the fungicide is applied to at least 50% of the flag leaf and where the interval from T1 allows, we will hold off until the flag leaf is fully emerged.

Broadleaved weed herbicides have been slow to work in the colder conditions and where we do not have the crop competition, fresh flushes of weeds have come through and care must be taken with herbicide timings as most sulfonylurea herbicides have a growth stage 39 cut off. However, Starane (fluroxypyr) and Spitfire (florasulam + fluroxypyr) have a growth stage 45 cut off for later weed control.

Spring beans have generally established well, although weevil activity does not seem to have declined during the cool weather. Also with the cool and wet conditions downy mildew has been a concern and therefore insecticides have been applied with trace elements to ensure the crop is as strong and healthy as possible.

Sugar beet growth is still slow whilst we wait for the ground to warm up, especially on the chalk. We are still some way off rows meeting, therefore, we are continuing with the herbicide programmes as the wet and warm conditions have resulted in continued weed emergence.

Part of our attention now turns to cropping plans and budgets for next year after the various changes we have had to make this season. The main issue is going to be getting OSR drilled in good time especially where we have late maturing cereals. No doubt next year will be completely different again!