Two wet harvests have taken their toll on soil structure. Fields appear in a mosaic of patches with their colour reflecting the degree of abuse. The dry, cool spring has compounded cropping problems, with winter crops 15cm shorter than normal and few tillers. But rain has at least improved the look of crops.

Winter wheat is now a shade of deep green and a perfect backdropfor yellow rust on Oakley, Robigusand Glasgow. Septoria is alive in the base of thecanopy and triazole rates will have to remain high to keep a lid onfurther development.

Open crop canopies have encouraged weed growth and I can’tremember having to spend so much money on weed control. Take myword, there will be some dirty crops around. But, given goodweather, wheat could yet produce a fair yield. The danger is thatwith only a tiny root ball in most crops, a long, hot period couldstill spell disaster.

Beans have had chocolate spot sprays and someBasagran (bentazone), in a probably vain attempt tocontrol weeds. Maize is up and running and loves the warm weather,visibly growing daily.

Winter oilseed rape has performed its usualLazarus trick of rising from the dead. This crop’sability to compensate is truly amazing. Final sprays have now beenapplied for sclerotinia and alternaria. Spring rapes are at stemextension and will receive pollen beetle sprays as appropriate.

Cereals 2009 will, as always, provide an interesting two daysand is a great barometer to measure the optimism or despondencywithin the industry. This coupled with the usual Grimm’sfairytale on fertiliser prices warms the cockles of yourheart.