Most crops look surprisingly well after the cold and snow of December.  The exception is winter oats which have taken a real battering with some fields now to be drilled with a spring crop.  Some fields of winter beans have also suffered, so a careful check on plant populations is needed before deciding whether to re-drill or not.

Pre-emergence herbicides and autumn applied Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) mixes have worked well at controlling blackgrass in winter wheat.  Any outstanding Atlantis applications will be due once conditions are suitable.

Autumn residual herbicides have worked particularly well on meadowgrass and broad-leaved weeds.  If not yet applied, there is still time to apply such residuals, if the label allows, otherwise a switch to more contact acting herbicides will be required.

Manganese will need to be applied as soon as conditions allow on deficient fields.  It is always best to try and stay ahead of seeing any deficiency symptoms.  Frost lift is very evident on some soil types, so I am encouraging more spring rolling than usual.  Applications of chlorpyrifos are now due on high risk sites as wheat bulb fly egg hatch has started.

Oilseed rape crops generally look well despite frosted leaves taking the visual gloss off.  Be on the look out for light leaf spot as it is creeping in on some crops, and is very evident where an autumn fungicide could not be applied.  Propyzamide has generally worked very well at controlling grassweeds and chickweed.  It has been particularly effective on sub-soiler established crops where all the blackgrass has emerged from a shallow depth – ideal for propyzamide.

The spring drilling campaign is just beginning with an odd field of spring barley drilled so far. Spring oat seed is becoming scarce due to the high number of winter oat crop failures.