Mild weather in the second half of October and early November has seen phenomenal crop growth. I do not think I have seen oilseed rape plants grow so fast for the time of year. The main issue from the wet and windy October has been lack of spray days and in many cases planned applications have been applied several weeks later than ideal, rather than several days. As a result blackgrass control will have been compromised in some cases.

Winter wheats are generally well established with slugs niggling some later sown crops. Pre-emergence herbicides have been particularly successful at controlling blackgrass on crops drilled in late September and early October where moisture soon followed. Contact herbicides such as Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) or Unite (flupyrsulfuron + pyroxsulam) are being applied to earlier sown crops as a last throw of the dice to try and finish off any blackgrass survivors from the pre-em herbicide stacks. For fields with few grassweed problems, then residual herbicides are being applied to control a range of broad-leaved weeds. Volunteer oilseed rape levels are much lower than average which has meant many fields have avoided the need for more expensive contact acting herbicides.

Winter barley crops have established really well with the earliest sown crops now looking very thick and forward. Manganese deficiencies are beginning to show on these crops on lighter land. Residual herbicides have now been applied for blackgrass control so now it is a case of relying on crop competition to do the rest at smothering this weed.

There are some very large oilseed rape canopies. Often the crops are not particularly thick, but rapid crop growth and huge individual leaves are making for a large canopy. Levels of phoma have exploded on to the scene on susceptible varieties in the past two weeks. It is very evident to see how little phoma has appeared on the more resistant varieties so far. Fungicides are being applied to control phoma and provide some light leaf spot control, with propyzamide now being added for grassweed control.