Land isn’t dry any longer and there’s no chance of any more sowing until we get a settled spell. Not that there’s much left to do; only after vegetables, potatoes & maize. Its surprising how much maize is yet to harvest – a reminder to growers to be more careful in selecting varieties and to get a spread of harvest dates; with more early on. However, there’s no real pressure for sowing; if it doesn’t pick up, we’ll just leave it alone and spring barley will do just as well. One thing that last year showed us was that forcing seed into cold, wet ground is a fools game.

On September-sown cereals, we really want to be through them again to complete their second aphicide to control barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), which is now a serious threat over winter. In some places too, early doses of herbicide will be under pressure and so a top-up on grass weeds is important.

Many early-sown barleys are rank and the mildew is already taking out lower leaves. If it is fit, we’ll be through most of them with a low dose of something such as cyprodinil, just to make sure that plant loss over winter is not too high. Also keep an eye on mildew-prone wheats, including new variety Leeds.

October-sown cereals have established well, but many are yet to receive a herbicide and aphicide, so a chance to get on would be nice. However, there’s no need to go making a mess. Aim to have crops covered before Christmas, but any time over the winter should be sufficient, but don’t expect frost to kill aphids until we get a prolonged frozen period.

Pigeon food (oilseed rape) is looking great. I’m not really worried about crops being too advanced, winter will see them hunker-down again and they’ll stand some grazing. Big plants have clear signs of cabbage root fly damage, demonstrating that they were under severe pressure early on and we were right to keep applying doses of insecticide. However, it also demonstrates how vulnerable the crop is to insect damage and how empty our armoury now is against them.

We’re now hoping to get on those rape crops that need it with doses of propyzamide to control the serious grass weeds – though blackgrass isn’t one of them – we don’t have any. This will mostly include some disease control, though I’m not really too concerned about disease pressure this year.