This past month we have had some great weather, which has allowed growers to crack on with field work. Spring wheat followed by spring barley then on to potatoes. Most have been planted in good order and many are already well rowed up.

Fertilising and spraying jobs are generally up to date. But, and there always is one of these caveats, we have had some pretty cold nights. It was -1C here last night, with ice on the water troughs this morning. That brings with it the potential for crop damage when applying complex tank mixes. If time permits, consider splitting applications or try to use materials less prone to scorch.

So far, due to the relatively slow spring, disease levels in crops remain at a controllable level. However, septoria in winter wheat is probably the most evident of the cereal foliar diseases at present. Adherence to accurate timings and sensible rates of active will assist in keeping the disease at bay. Chlorothalonil in the mix with azoles and an SDHI should suffice.

Now is the time for decisions on plant growth regulators. It will be more or less the last chance saloon for winter barley whilst there will be another opportunity with winter wheat. The slower growth this spring may tempt growers to skimp on their plant growth regulator (PGR) spend. How often have we been caught out in the past? Be warned!

The gloriously warm days will have awakened many pests from their winter siesta. Check cereal crops for aphid activity and oilseed rape for the presence of pollen beetle. Oilseed crops with flowers open are past the stage of being at risk. Do check the updated thresholds for treatment of pollen beetle. As responsible guardians of the countryside we must do our best to reduce the spread of pesticide resistance. Only spray if thresholds are breached.

One of the upsides of the colder soil conditions this spring is that the risk of sclerotinia in rape should be much less. Perhaps some of the potential two spray crop situations may be able to revert to a single spray this season.

Whilst potato planting goes on apace it may seem bizarre to suggest that growers pay attention to their dumps of waste earth from previous seasons. However, these are generally the prime source of early blight infection. Do not allow any growth of haulm. Cover with black polythene and back up with a knapsack herbicide spray – an Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMU) is available.