Harvest is nearly complete in this area with the exception of afew crops of beans and linseed.

Yields have been pleasantly surprising. Rape crops nearly rippedup in February have exceeded expectations doing around 3t/ha.Winter barley has reached record yields for many, as has winterwheat. Most spring crops have also done very well considering thedry conditions post-drilling.

The major downside to this is appalling prices which, coupledwith the crippling fertiliser prices this season, has certainlytaken the shine off what should have been a vintage year.

Rape crops are establishing well despite the dry conditions andslug activity is currently relatively low. Don’t be fooled into afalse sense of security. I have growers with high levels of slugactivity and some who have had to re-drill. Be vigilant if we getany rain this coming week; expect slug activity to increasemassively.

About half my rape crops have received a pre-emergence spray andmost of the remaining crops will receive a metazachlor/quinmeracmix early post-emergence with a graminicide added if volunteerpressure is high.

I expect the early wheat drillers will start in earnest thisweek, but please don’t rush to sow into poor seed-beds.

The dry spell means in some areas that a chit of blackgrass hasbeen impossible to achieve. Blackgrass seed dormancy this year isalso thought to be higher than expected. With increased Atlantis(mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium) resistanceworries we really do have to focus on achieving good seedbeds andusing a robust pre-emergence treatment.

Last year Defy (prosulfocarb) + difluenican (DFF) mixesperformed very well and in more difficult blackgrass situationsDefy + Liberator (flufenacet + DFF) mixes did exceptionallywell.