Since I wrote my last article a month ago little has changed on farm, the relentless easterlies and freezing conditions have prevented crops from growing away.

Rape crops are now a very mixed bag; the forward, early established crops don’t look too bad. These crops are, however, in the minority. Most rape crops have gone backwards, and the worst crops on north or east facing slopes now look very thin and backward. Rape does have amazing powers of recovery but these will be tested to the extreme in places this year.

Most of these crops looked okay in January and February and had either Kerb or Crawler applied for blackgrass control. Some will be re-drilled, but beware following crop restrictions. Kerb (propyzamide) is the worst, requiring an interval of 10 weeks till beans and peas can be safely drilled and 25 weeks till it is safe to plant any brassicas.

Fortunately, most of my crops treated since the New Year had Crawler (carbetamide) and both brassicas and beans can be drilled two weeks after application providing the soil is moved.

Spring rape needs drilling into warm soils and with soil temperatures still around 2-3C, I can’t see any spring rape being drilled until the third week of April. Drilled this late, I wouldn’t want to budget on it yielding much more than 1.6t/ha. Given the extra cost of cultivations and seed, the winter crop it is replacing would only have to yield 1.4t/ha to give an equal margin and for clean, weed-free crops that is still achievable.

Early sown wheat crops are now approaching the T0 timing and will receive a fungicide shortly, but these are in the minority. Most crops are still at the early tillering stage and currently clean. Most of these will not justify a T0 spray unless they are varieties that are very susceptible to yellow rust.