The cool weather has persisted throughout April with frost at night, and crops including grass are growing slowly. The days are lengthening though, and it is a reminder of the over-riding influence of day-length on living things.

Winter crops are not tall, but are progressing through the growth stages – the forward wheats are at T1 fungicide timings now. Those with higher yield potential, or a lot of septoria, got a T0 and will receive a Tracker (epoxiconazole + boscalid) plus Bravo (chlorothalonil) mix with the balance of the growth regulator.

Where needed, an appropriate herbicide will be added to take out spring-germinating weeds. In the Lothians the usual offenders are fumitory, groundsel and cleavers, but my autumn mix has done a decent job on groundsel this season, so it is less of an issue this time. Axial (pinoxaden) will be recommended where wild oats are a problem, and there are places where the headlands need to be targeted for brome.

Where the T0 was omitted, we will beef up the rates for T1. Allowing for the variation in varieties, septoria seems to be at relatively high levels, while the cold weather has knocked out the mildew that had appeared earlier and yellow rust has not been in evidence. For first wheats that missed T0 I would be more inclined to use Aviator (bixafen + prothioconazole), as the eyespot risk will be less, and my plan for T2 will be to use Adexar (epoxiconazole + fluxapyroxad).

Winter barleys have had T1 sprays  – either Zulu (isopyrazam) plus Proline (prothioconazole) or Siltra Xpro (bixafen + prothioconazole).

Oilseed rape is beginning to flower in the early sites, while later crops that had a rough time with pigeons are a bit behind.

The spring barley that was sown in the first dry spell has come through fairly evenly and many have put the N top-dressing on at 1-2-leaf stage. Cold weather is delaying the emergence of weeds, but as soon as the temperature rises they will appear. Some growers are having to go pre-emergence for annual meadow grass in spring barley. It has been a real problem especially in Aberdeenshire and the north-east for a number of years now, but even on farms where there is no grass in the rotation it can be a significant nuisance.

We are now into the IACS forms – thankfully no major changes from last year, and the system is working at an acceptable speed this time. However there are far too many people without payment yet for last year, now having to submit the 2016 claim.