Here in the East we have to resist the urge to work by calendar date instead of crop growth stage while cool weather conditions persist; crop development is as sluggish as the rise in soil and air temperatures. Ignore historical application dates and take the season as it comes.

Thankfully winter barleys have finally pulled themselves together with a dose of nitrogen and look a far healthier colour than they have all winter. Forward crops are nearing GS 30/31 and a T1 fungicide. Brown rust is present in susceptible varieties, but to date is relatively inactive; net blotch and mildew can also be found.

Wheat crops are currently receiving a T0. The cool weather has held off yellow rust development, giving us the opportunity for a preventative triazole application at this stage. It’s also crucial to control septoria, as rain splash will be encouraging movement up to newer leaves. Recent herbicide applications, high winds and the occasional hail storm will have left crop leaves bruised and de-waxed. Therefore beware crop damage from large tank mixes, especially whilst high diurnal temperature ranges persist.

Pollen beetle migration into oilseed rape crops has begun, although the main influx will occur once temperatures exceed 15C. Over the past few years the number of insecticide applications required has been low, however, if cool weather causes a protracted green bud stage the potential for damage could be high. Where crops received a fungicide for light leaf spot and phoma before stem extension it may be necessary to follow up at green bud for growth regulation, as well as LLS. It may tempting to apply the remaining N in one go on forward crops, but if at all possible stick to a three dose split. This will reduce the risk of lodging as well as providing N closer to seed-fill. Crops showing potential may require more N than planned; if this is the case it is well worth planning now for a liquid application after petal fall.

Sugar beet emergence has been slow, with the earliest drilled now coming through the ground. Again crop safety will need to be considered when planning the first post-emergence herbicide.