A few cold and crisp days have enabled me to escape from the office or lecture theatre to walk the crops and assess how they are wintering. On the whole it is good news with little damage evident; however the winter oats tell another story!

There is no doubt that once the snow cleared and temperatures dropped below -10?C damage has been done to these crops. It is early days to say how much but it could be significant on someLow temperatures have not bothered the wheat, which looks very well. Hopefully, the cold temperatures will keep rusts at bay into the spring. Despite a mountain of snow in December the rainfall for the winter so far is below average.

Warm, wet south westerly’s are at a premium but there is still a lot of time before spring sets in. Cold temperatures have kept manganese problems to a minimum, but if the chance to spray known vulnerable areas arises in the next few weeks, don’t miss it.

Wheat bulb fly egg hatch has just started, so vulnerable fields should be identified. Then depending on risk or sample information, they should be sprayed.

The cold weather has done more to control pigeons than three tonnes of gunshot, but small groups are still present and are very persistent. Patrols and diversion tactics are critical from stem extension onwards and should be a priority. Carbetamide can still be applied up to the end of February, so ensure those fields with grass weed problems are sprayed.

Make the most of the current weather and get spring land cultivated as required and plan the spring campaign. Sprayers even when stored inside may have been damaged by the frost so check them over. Sulphur-containing fertiliser will be the first to be applied so make sure it is accessible. Calibrate the spreader and be ready to go in late February.