Spring has finally sprung in Wiltshire! This last week saw temperatures that were closer to “normal”, frosts have been light or none existent and most days the wind hasn’t cut straight through you.  Soil temperature have risen to 6-7C in the morning.

As a result most crops have moved on well and actually look as though they have a desire to grow.  With soil temperatures now above 5C, spring crops are chitting quickly and likely to emerge within a couple of weeks of drilling.  Barley that was drilled in the first week of March has taken six weeks to break the surface, but is now growing fast. 

Soil is finally warm enough to drill linseed and spring rape, as a result many growers have now been able to put drills away until the autumn. There are areas that are still too wet to go near with machinery, but they are tending to be small rather than whole fields now.

Oilseed rape is at various stages of stem extension, the ones in very sheltered fields are getting close to green/yellow bud, but there are some which are still small and only just starting to move.

Most rape crops are now past the timing for Galera, luckily most places where it was needed had opportunities to get it applied, but in places the tramlines are deep.

Pigeons have been causing major damage in places and here crops will need this warmer weather to compensate, hopefully they will finally be able to grow faster than the pigeons can eat.  Crawler and Kerb look to have done a good job finally, with things growing so slowly it has been long and worrying time coming.

Winter barley has been tillering well this last week and I would expect it to get closer to GS30 in a week’s time, at the moment it hasn’t started to stand up.  If we could get them to produce two more tillers I think yield potential should be average or possibly better.Tiller retention will be key now as there aren’t any that we can afford to lose, therefore I am not planning on scrimping on the growth regulator programme.  T1 fungicides are likely to be fairly straightforward as, at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much weed competition.

Winter wheat crops are the crop with the largest variation at the moment.  There are some which have 4-5 tillers on, others that have only 1-2 leaves.  Grassweed levels are just as variable.  There are fields that normally resemble a grass field that have very low populations of blackgrass or brome, others which have blackgrass with 7-10 tillers on.

At least soil temps have warmed enough to contemplate Atlantis, Unite or Broadway Star as appropriate. The big problem will be what we can safely mix with either of them. We are likely to have rapid lush growth now which will increase the risk of crop effect even if grassweed sprays are used alone let alone when we mix anything with them.  Ideally it would be best to have a 7-10 day gap either side of Atlantis etc. 

Disease levels have been fairly low, cold weather has stopped the yellow rust that was around in early March, but it will probably reappear as it dries and warms up.  The rain over the last week will mean septoria levels are rising. 

Mildew risk is also rising now that there is fresh lush growth. There are some late drilled crops that are unlikely to need a T0 spray but most that were drilled by November are likely to benefit.

If rust is a concern then I would recommend using Cenatur, if septoria then Ceando.  Fielder can be added to both if needed for mildew, otherwise I would mix with chlorothalonil or Folpet, but none of the last three can be mixed with Atlantis, Unite or Broadway Star.