Warm balmy March days seem a distant memory as we now embrace bitterly cold days, rain, frost and snow. Long-discarded waterproofs are resurrected and what were pleasant strolls in the countryside become hard slogs carrying several kilos of soil on each boot!

Current rainfall for April is in excess of 75mm with more to come and up to 30 cm of snow has flattened some rape crops, fortunately not snapping the stems. These crops have already started to stand back up, all be it with a severely kinked stem.

Having travelled to and from Dover over Easter it was easy to see a marked difference in the crops. Rape in the north is flowering despite cold temperatures, not favouring sclerotinia sporulation; many crops will receive a two-spray programme. In the south cold weather and drought appear to have delayed flowering and these could have a glorious but brief flowering period necessitating only one spray.

Prothioconazole, with its broad spectrum disease control, will be the mainstay. However, if you have used this previously you cannot exceed a total of 1.26 litres/ha on the crop.

Probably the most noticeable feature viewed from the bus was the degree of BYDV in crops. Barley in particular seems to be badly affected and will inevitably hit yields and quality. Travelling with a group of Yorkshire farmers I am sure I could detect a little wry smile on their faces!

Despite the cold, forward winter barley crops are approaching GS 39 and due the second growth regulator. In an ideal word this would be applied before ear emergence but with spray days rapidly becoming as rare as hen’s teeth, no doubt they will be combined with the T2 spray.

Winter wheat crops are now at, or very close to, GS 32. The rain for us has removed the options of cheap and cheerful. Robust is likely to be the word most banded about.

Half-rate triazoles and chlorthanonil will be the backbone of all the programs with various additions due to rust, take all and mildew.