The vast majority of wheat and barley crops have come out of the winter looking well structured with a bigger leaf area index than we have seen for a few years. On the whole, this is desirable, but it has led to a rapid build up of foliar diseases within crops.

Wheats are showing high levels of septoria, particularly in the more susceptable varieties, and there are also unseasonably high levels of mildew present in many crops. This situation will be rectified shortly as the wheat crops start to receive their T0 fungicide applications. Where mildew is a particular problem a low rate of proquinazid will be included, Otherwise, most crops will receieve a low rate triazole, with or without chlorothalonil, depending on the severity of the septoria.

With the majority of the barley acreage being grown for feed in this area, Saffron and KWS Cassia make up the bulk of the acreage being grown. Both varieties only have a rhynchosporium resistance rating of 4. The result is that I am now seeing a lot of rhynchosporium in barley crops. In some cases this has already gone into an aggressive phase, manifesting itself as foci of really severe rhynchosporium within the field.

These crops will again be receiving a T0 immediately to try to arrest this damaging disease of barley. The recent dry weather will also be helping the situation. I am looking forward to the arrival of commercial tonnages of C2 Florentine this autumn, which will give us a high yielding two row barley with bean yellow mosaic virus (BYMV) resistance and an 8 rating against rhynchosporium.

The winter oilseed rape crop in general is looking well and is currently at the start of stem extension. With crop values high, protecting yield will be crucial for this crop. Most crops are in the process of receiving a fungicide along with minor nutrients boron and molybdenum. Canopies in general are bigger than last year, which has meant that most crops have had less early nitrogen but will have more in April as the crop starts to flower.

Oats, which are an important break crop and source of animal feed in this area, have not enjoyed the winter as well as the wheat and barley and have been particularly susceptable to frost lift. As a result, there are quite a few crops of oats that are now looking decidedly patchy. These crops could prove difficult to manage as stressed oats do not respond well to plant growth regulator applications (PGRs), but trying to keep oat crops upright without them can again prove challenging.

The recent dry weather has seen the spring barley crop planted into near perfect conditions. Seed sales would indicate that there is a bigger than usual area of spring barley planted this year. With seed being in short supply all varieties have sold well, with strong interest in the new variety Garner and the more proven varieties Quench and Westminster.