At long last some rain has arrived and this will provide a suitable tonic for parched crops in the region. Disease has been noticeable by its absence in the wheat crops, which is great news for those of us trying to control the fungicide spend.

Unfortunately, the only missing ingredient for disease to develop is “just add water” and needless to say that has now arrived. It is no wonder all of us involved in agriculture are always wishing for the opposite of what we have: too dry, too wet, the wrong type of rain and so on. T1s are complete now and I can only imagine that the flag leaf will be 20 days away.

Having basked in some warm spring sunshine early in April, we were shocked back into reality, with biting cold winds and frosts as the cricket season started. The oilseed rape crops are struggling into flower and have looked miserable all spring. Low soil temperatures, night frosts and ever veracious pigeons have combined to delay flowering. Sclerotinia sprays are now being applied, and all being well this will be a one pass fungicide.

Pod midge and seed weevil have been variable in their appearance. Pod midge can be described as a “preserver of energy”, or to you and me, lazy. If you can’t find any on the headland, then you haven’t got any! Rape plantings will be under pressure this autumn with low returns, establishment issues and variable grassweed control. The options are not great for alternative crops, so there is unlikely to be drastic changes, but certainly fine tuning.

Winter barley crops look well, but small. Many growers think I have lost the plot when I leave a second growth regulator recommendation for crops that are only 20cm tall. The fathers are quick to point out “we need the straw you know!” Take my word for it, 200kg+ of N on Volume and Glacier will produce a mountain of straw and you will be pleased that you have topped up the growth regulator.

The final fungicide will be applied when the awns are well emerged. This will consist of an SDHI and azole mix. Abiotic spotting is common in crops and is a combination of factors, including drought stress. Not always easy to explain this to a grower who has just applied £25/ha of fungicide and sees all these black spots.

Spring barley crops have shown the most stress; with compacted areas, manganese and frost, combining with the dry conditions, to provide a tapestry of pale green coloured crops. Growth stages vary from freshly emerged to mid-tillering. As such, some are receiving herbicides and the most forward fungicides.

Spring beans have emerged well, but the dry conditions have not helped the weed control program. Bentazone has been applied in an attempt to control some of the emerging weeds. Weevils have been very active, but spray applications and recent frosts have helped reduce the pressure. Winter beans are just coming into flower and are currently free from significant levels of chocolate spot. My tip of the week would be, remember there will be more beans to market this year and to ensure you can sell them at the best price, monitor bruchid beetle.