The predictive system told us that we should be seeing Phoma in rape crops by mid October. Given the dry conditions through most of August, September and October I must admit to being sceptical!

I have treated some crops for Phoma but the majority are still virtually free from the disease. Soil temperatures have now got to a level where applications of Kerb (propyzamide) and Crawler (carbetamide) can begin.

Being mindful of limited spraying opportunities between now and the New Year I shall add a fungicide in with these applications on crops that have not yet received one.

Most wheat and barley crops have eventually emerged. Some have not produced complete stands, but few merit re-drilling. Slug activity has largely been very low and consequently so has pellet use. In total I have probably used only 20% of the pellets that I did last year – I hope this is the case across the industry and metaldehyde will not found in significant amounts in water!

Pre-emergence treatments have been very variable this year. Crystal (pendimethalin + flufenacet) seems to have suffered particularly badly and in some cases broadleaved weeds that should have been easily controlled have come through it!

Mixtures including diflufenican have faired better and Liberator (flufenacet + diflufenican) has definitely had the edge over Crystal.  Defy (prosulfocarb) and diflufenican mixes seem to have worked better than most alternatives in dry conditions.

Some pre-emergence failures can be attributed to poor seed-beds, but many instances of poor control of grassweeds and broadleaved weeds cannot.

Frit fly has made an unwelcome appearance in some wheat crops. Most commonly it can be found following oats or in crops after grass where the interval between sward destruction and drilling was short. Other problem areas are crops following poor grassweed control last year.

Winter bean planting is complete and in stark contrast to last year all crops have been levelled post ploughing and have been sprayed with a herbicide. Early planted crops are emerging well which is two months before some crops struggled through the ground last year.