A prolonged spell of cool and dry weather during April has eased the disease pressure on winter cereals. An unsettled forecast at the time of writing could see disease pressure rise again but some rain would benefit all crops at the moment, particularly those sown in spring. All crops look very well and the main issues this spring are managing these higher disease levels and lodging.

Leaf 3 is emerging on most winter wheat crops now which is when the T1 fungicide is to be applied. Septoria tritici can often be seen on leaf 5 which will be close to leaf 3 as it emerges. The T1 fungicide will need to be well timed to make sure this disease does not spread higher up the canopy. Yellow rust is now under control now that T0 fungicides have been applied. However, there are fields where the rust is still bubbling away on the older leaves so there is no room for complacency with product choices or letting timings drift off schedule. With conditions being so dry weed flushes have been low so far with charlock, cleavers and wild oats the main spring germinating weeds. Often these weeds can be controlled with a herbicide mixed with the T1 fungicide, although keep on the lookout for annoying weeds such as bindweed and fat hen which have a habit of emerging late.

Winter barley has done its usual trick of flying through its growth stages in a very short period of time with the flag leaf now emerging in many crops.  Most fields look excellent and now it is a case of applying late season growth regulators on the bigger crops to prevent lodging and minimise brackling. A T2 fungicide will be required in most cases to keep the top part of the canopy clean and prevent late season diseases such as brown rust and ramularia spoiling what looks to be good yield potential.

Winter oats look very leafy and advanced even though they have just begun stem extension. They have a fantastic ability to scavenge nitrogen and this is certainly not a year to be applying too much nitrogen. They will soon be ready for their T1 fungicide which will mainly be required to control mildew on susceptible varieties.

Oilseed rape crops have quickly come into flower and fungicides for sclerotinia control are being applied. Sclerotinia risk prediction models help with timing decisions and will influence whether a second fungicide will be required later on.

Spring beans have been slow to emerge but now established they look excellent. Pea and bean weevil have been causing a few problems and have required an insecticide for their control in some instances.