At last, a nice bit of winter though there’s no promise of it lasting, but let’s hope. Up until last week, we’d only had seven frosts with only one before Christmas – on 7th November.  Therefore, we have to expect significant aphid numbers and a serious threat of BYDV – unless this bit of winter lasts and particularly if we get serious cold without snow cover. It’s not been cold enough yet and snow is coming.

Oilseed Rape crops have thick, strong deep roots and a nice rosette from which to develop new growth.  Thankfully, all our efforts to control Cabbage Root Fly appear to have worked as all crops inspected since New Year are free from this damaging pest.  However, I am still expecting to see crops which were not treated in autumn taken out in spring – as happened last year.  Phoma & light leaf spot levels are very low so, despite all the commercial hype, they don’t require any treatment.

Rape crops are obviously short of nitrogen, as all recent new growth has been robbing older leaves for the nitrogen to do it.  Therefore, even well established crops will be having fertiliser this month – but not much in terms of rate and preferably as a high-ammonium product to minimise leaching risk. 

Wheats are still full of mildew, but it’s not active so is not a problem.  Rust levels, however, are a high risk but there is no panic. Just make sure that T0 fungicides are ordered up for March.

Before that, we may have to start taking out truly massive wild oats which will make control tricky in early March, as we normally use the potent grass herbicides in April when it’s warm enough.  Quite a number of crops will require two-stage treatment, with the extra cost – ouch!