Drilling of winter crops is largely completed, with just winter oats and beans yet to go in. I prefer later planted winter beans as it gives a chance of being within the growth stage cut off for spring weed control.

Bird cherry-oat aphids are about, so monitor single purpose treated wheat drillings (or where the last drilling runs used an untreated top up from the shed), and apply an aphicide to avoid barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) spread if needed.

Pre-emergence herbicide sprays have been a headache in some catchy weather. My recommendations were good to go post-emergence for that reason, but getting on before weed emergence is key. Volunteer beans are showing in following wheat crops and control options are limited. To protect watercourses, CMPP (for example, Optica) cannot be used between 1 October and 1 March. Remaining options include Spitfire (florasulam + fluroxypyr) or Lector Delta (florasulam + diflufenican). I favour Lector Delta for the DFF top-up, which will give useful grassweed control.

Oilseed rape crops are mostly well established. Flea beetle pressure was low in my area and patchy for the rest of our southeast team, slugs were the main issue. Forward crops are good, as the pigeon flocks are about early. Pigeon control needn’t be perfect – just better than your neighbours! Mix it up and move shooters, scarers, kites and bangers around regularly.

As Halloween arrives and pumpkins are harvested (good crop, some soft rot losses after all the rain) I tend to think of propyzamide (Kerb) application to rape. Where there is a history of poppies and straw won’t be removed, Astrokerb (propyzamide + amiopyralid) will be applied.

Phoma threshold is approaching and I’ll be recommending Cypher (Penthiopyrad+Picoxystrobin) following good results last season – this provides a break from triazole use and gave a real boost to plant vigour and root development, with useful efficacy against light leaf spot too.