For many there was hope that the new year would bring an improvement in the weather. Unfortunately this has not been the case with land being extremely wet again after the recent snowfall.
Now the snow has cleared it is allowing the opportunity to assess the viability of crops. A grim few weeks lie ahead as many painful decisions will be made on whether a crop is worth keeping or not. Equally painful is going to be trying to achieve good grass weed control in fields that have had little or no residual herbicides so far.
In oilseed rape it has been a real struggle to apply Kerb (propyzamide) from recommendations made three months ago. With the cut-off date being 31 January the plan is now to switch to Crawler (carbetamide) as a last ditch attempt to achieve some decent blackgrass control.
Where oilseed rape was sprayed with a herbicide in the autumn, a fungicide was included for phoma and light leaf spot control. However, where no fungicide has yet been applied then it will be a priority for light leaf spot control, but unfortunately it will probably be too late to control early autumn phoma infections.
In wheat there was hardly any autumn Atlantis, Unite or Broadway Star applied for grass weed control. As a result there is going to be a lot of pressure on these herbicides to perform a one hit solution this spring in some crops which have yet to receive any residual herbicides.
With increasing blackgrass resistance to some of these herbicides there could be some disappointing blackgrass control, particularly as crops are thinner and will not be as competitive. Be careful to observe time intervals between egg hatch sprays of chlorpyrifos for wheat bulb fly and herbicides such as Atlantis or Unite.
Winter beans have emerged well, but some did not receive the planned pre-em herbicides due to such poor seed-beds or travelling conditions. Crawler (carbetamide) can still be used to provide some grassweed and limited broad-leaved weed control. Basagran (bentazone) later in the spring will have to provide the main broad-leaved weed control to take out problem weeds such as cleavers, mayweed, volunteer oilseed rape and charlock.
With most oilseed rape and cereal crops generally thin and/or backward then most crops will justify some early nitrogen when weather and travelling conditions improve. However, there will be no need to put extra amounts of nitrogen on these first passes than normal, just the fact that it is being applied sooner rather than later is the main factor.