Harvest enters its final chapter with the last remnants being gathered up. A long and protracted affair best summed up as a curates egg, good in parts. Comments in the press about record harvest are a little optimistic, and although I feel we will be on the right side of average I don’t think a record crop is in store.

Commodity prices remain relatively strong for spot and future sales, giving more confidence nd the battle is now on to optimise winter plantings. Maximising wheat and rape acreages will be the goal but a wet, late harvest has already put us on the back foot.

Rape following barley is now up and away. Depending on type of establishment crops have either received a metazachlor-based product immediately after drilling or at expanded cotyledon. On min-tillage systems volunteer cereals have been targeted as well.

Slug activity is very low and very few pellets have been applied. Flea beetle activity is only noticeable on the home saved seed lots at present. In terms of rape establishment, that is the good news! Following wheat has been a much more challenging situation as many crops have just being combined and the rush is on to get these drilled. How late can you drill? For my clients passing the 10 September is courting trouble.

Site location becomes very important for drilling after this date. Rape crops are tremendous compensators and will exceed expectations from thin stands; however trying to cosset a tiny rape crop through a long winter requires the patience of a saint. Nitrogen can be a useful aid on min till crops drilled late and will be part of the toolbox.

Wheat drilling has started and under the current conditions emergence should be rapid. The use of pre-emergence weed control is the goal for the majority of my clients and flufenacet will form the core for most programmes. Winter barley drilling will start in earnest next week and with limited post emergence grass weed options, pre- emergence applications are essential.