At last spring has arrived and in the space of a week most of the spring crops have been drilled. There have been a few late adjustments to cropping plans depending on the choices for greening, in particular the legume option that now requires two N-fixing crops. For many growers this has been a complication too far.

It is interesting to see that field margins seem to have increased in popularity compared to last year. The fact that they deal with GAEC and Greening in one go is a huge help. There are reservations about them though, as in previous schemes they caused some grief where weeds proliferated in the margins and spread into the crop. We have to keep an eye on them and take appropriate action swiftly if need be – spot treatment of weeds is a requirement. Grass margins are easy to manage in terms of herbicide use, of course, and hence create far fewer weed problems than wild bird cover mixes can do.

Winter crops are generally progressing nicely and have all responded to nitrogen. We have not had a great deal of warmth, but sufficient to produce a bit of growth. Winter oilseed rape is motoring on through stem extension and into bud stages. Winter barleys are also moving through the growth stages and T1 is going on to crops with minimal disease, even where there was no T0 fungicide.

Wheats are around the GS30 mark, although there is still a marked difference between the most forward and the latest-sown crops. T0 applications stemmed the septoria and I have split growth regulator between T0 and T1.

Wheat T1s will be based on Tracker or Enterprise (both boscalid + epoxiconazole) to benefit from the eyespot control, plus chlorothalonil, followed by a more modern SDHI at T2. The development of resistance is a constant threat to effective disease control and although our climate and greater reliance on ploughing and rotations help us in the North, we have to keep a wary eye on the situation and focus on mixes and rates to prolong the efficacy of the chemistry available to us.