We had 6mm of rain last week and, as I write, it is raining steadily giving us another 5mm already today. I was expecting the crops to turn dark green overnight after the first rain but they didn’t, and I can only put this down to the drop in temperature over the last few days.

Interestingly enough, even before the rain arrived, looking at moved ground (and digging about) there appeared to be no shortage of moisture around here, below about 30mm soil depth. Once again, that leads me to conclude that these anaemic looking crops were not suffering from moisture stress but lack of nitrogen. Firstly due to it not having been washed in (dry) and secondly because it hadn’t been taken up (cold).

Fortunately, nearly all the winter crops I’m involved with are well established, have good root systems and are in well structured soils, so this latest bit of rain and some warmer weather will change their appearance dramatically.

Most cereals will have had some degree of fungicide coverage by now, together with a fairly meaty growth regulator. Although the colder weather has reduced the rust risk, it is still there and the rain will increase the septoria risk so I’m still thinking robust rates are worthwhile.

Most PGR/fungicide applications have gone on anything up to a month earlier than they did last year. It’s important not to let the gap stretch too far if the weather has turned wet so I think a full four-spray strategy might be inevitable this year on some crops, depending on what the weather does later. Who knows?

Spring beans, peas, linseed and oilseed rape have germinated/emerged having gone into some of the best spring seedbeds I have ever seen. The rain will be perfect to help the pre-emergence sprays, and any insecticide seed treatments should be equally well activated. Having said that, flea beetle and pea/bean weevil can still become a proverbial pain if left unmonitored.