Last Friday (8th Feb), a couple of clients rang me to tell me that they had managed to get a bit of last minute wheat drilling done. Not only that, but it had been sown in near ideal conditions, some of the best they had managed to do all winter.

I was driving across stubble at the time, not only amazed that I could actually do it again, but that it was hardly making a mark. People were ringing about the validity of outstanding recommendations. Discussions were taking place about early fertiliser on winter rape. So were conversations on cultivation strategies for spring drilling. The whole world seemed a brighter, better place.

Since then – two days later at the time of writing – we have had 35mm of rain, with little sign of let-up for the next week or so. We’re past the latest timing for propyzamide and heading that way for carbetamide. If they’d gone on over the last few weeks it would probably all be in the river by now anyway. I have warned various growers to expect some messy rape crops this year, and a bit of patience together with a hefty dose of glyphosate may well be needed at harvest time.

I can’t believe there’s much nitrogen hanging around in the soil this spring, and I have no crops at all that look dangerously lush or forward. To that end, I am suggesting first doses go on as soon as the ground will sensibly travel, with a bit more going on not too much later. The temptation to put a higher dose on than normal first-time round is high, but be wary (as I have just witnessed) that it takes very little to make the ground saturated at the moment. An extra pass might be necessary this year.

It all seems doom and gloom at the moment. But at least there’s 50-odd hectares more wheat in the ground than there was a week ago.