Temperatures have finally warmed up, we have had some much needed rainfall and crops are generally looking well.

Most oilseed rape crops are now flowering well. Some have made an incredible comeback, but there are still a few crops out there that I should have read the last rites to! Pollen beetles are almost completely absent, which will have helped these late flowering crops greatly.

Seed weevil numbers have, on the other hand, been high south of Oxford, but absent any further north. These crops have now all been treated for seed weevil and sclerotinia spray intervals are being kept at three weeks.

Spring rape crops are growing rapidly and will soon be at risk from pollen beetle, but given that they are almost absent in the winter crop I would advise careful crop inspection, because at the moment it is hard to see where they are going to come from.

Wheat crops have received a flag leaf spray this week, which is about 3 weeks later than last year and disease levels are fairly low compared to recent seasons. The better more forward crops had an SDHI fungicide in conjunction with a triazole and the poorer more backward crops with lower yield potential received a strobilurin/triazole mix to try to keep costs down. We are approaching ear emergence and the priority now will be monitoring crops for orange blossom midge.

Finally, spring bean crops are starting to move with most crops are between 6 and 12 inches tall and will shortly start to flower. Downy mildew will probably start to appear soon, this disease always seems worse in stressed crops. For the last few years I have treated crops in the run up to flowering with 0.75l nutriphyte and a trace element mix. As a result I have not had to use Folio Gold (chlorothalonil + metalaxyl-M) on a single field in four years.

Given the eye watering price of Folio Gold I will definitely be using this approach again. No doubt some near fossilised agronomists will raise their arms in horror and accuse me of using snake oil again, but it works and also costs a fraction of the price of the alternatives.