Harvest is almost over, with just a few late crops of linseed and spring rape which are still not fit are dotted around, but for most the combine has finally been put to bed. Yields are best described as “much better than expected”, but are very variable and depend on soil type and establishment conditions.

Oilseed rape crops currently vary from the few early drilled crops that caught moisture and are now at six leaf and beyond to the late drilled crops that are still emerging. Generally slug activity has been low, but the odd hotspot has cropped up in cloddy seed-beds or particularly in crops established off the back of a sub-soiler.

Volunteer cereals have emerged quickly and spring barley volunteers have been particularly troublesome, with the speed of growth and competitiveness of these necessitating swift action to avoid competition with the crop.

Blackgrass is emerging well in rape crops and control will be needed soon. Now we have Centurion Max (clethodim) – the new highly active dim herbicide – control for the next few years should be easier, but its use needs to be followed up with an application of propyzamide to prevent rapid build up of resistance. The other control option is an early dose of Crawler (carbetamide) followed again by propyzamide. This approach is unlikely to be as effective on the less-than-ideal seed-beds left by some till seeding and sub-soiler established crops.

Swift progress is being made with drilling, wheat and barley crops are generally going into good seed-beds, except on very heavy clay soils. Slug activity on crops following rape is relatively high and most of these crops are receiving a dose of slug pellets post drilling and rolling. I prefer using good quality 1.5% metaldehyde pellets to try to minimise environmental problems where possible.

Robust stacked pre-emergence applications are currently being applied, ideally lower air and soil temperatures and a little more moisture than we currently have would ensure they work better, but after last year I certainly won’t be praying for rain!