What has been a remarkably warm spell will no doubt end in a shock! Crops on the whole look well and have emerged rapidly. I am convinced that this rapid emergence is our best weapon against pests. Recent heavy rain has put paid to some late drilling plans, but on the whole fields remain in good condition. There is little drain flow yet, but last weekend’s rain in the north will no doubt “flush” the system.

Oilseed rape crops are now being treated with propyzamide, combined with a pyrethroid and a fungicide. Talking to growers in the south, the cabbage stem flea beetle larvae damage last year was significant. Nobody yet has provided me with sufficient information to say that the resistance to pyretheroids in the adult is passed to the juvenile and is active from hatching. As a consequence I am persisting with an insecticide, in what is probably a vain attempt to protect the plants from the larvae.

Crops have certainly enjoyed the recent warm weather and look in perfect condition for winter. I have seen many triffid-like crops further south which in the past, from our experience, do not like a lot of snow. If the various “daily comics” are to be believed, then a severe winter is heading our way, which will be great for killing all the charlock and runch and a lot cheaper than bifenox.

Slugs, have at present, only caused limited damage in the wheat crop. The positive part of this is that treatments tend now to be confined to areas rather than fields. This will also coincide with a move to ferric phosphate to limit the risk to water catchments.

Pre-emergence herbicide programmes appear to be working well and where possible post-emergence flufenacet top ups are being applied. Unfortunately, I have already seen two fields where I fear the outcome is veering to glyphosate. Volunteer beans are growing very well through the pre-emergence armoury and will require some autumn treatment. On the whole wheat also looks well and is ready for winter.

Winter beans are emerging well in the warm weather and are providing a challenge, as not all pre-emergence products were applied. This is really the last chance saloon when you list the broad-leaved weed control products available for post-emergence application. Finally the barley and oat crops are also in good order, with the only cloud on the horizon being the potential for late aphid flights and possible barley yellow dwarf virus. I think the risk will be very low, but if the weather remains open I will start to get very twitchy about ignoring the threat. Bring on the cold weather!

Having recently attended a fertiliser convention in Spain I was pleased to learn that the world was awash with fertiliser. I was more than a little surprised when urea jumped up in price the following week. The main concern from most producers was logistics. With few farmers buying, stocks were piled up and as such I think we will see many efforts to spook the market into action.