Over the last ten days we havehad some very welcome rain after a drought of nearly sixweeks.

Oilseed rape crops are very uneven andpatchy due to lack of moisture.

The most forward plants are at thesix-leaf stage and some are at merely the two-leaf stage, howeverwith nearly 15mm of rain the crops should grow fast and even out.Surprisingly, winter wheat drilled in the third week of Septemberhas emerged fairly evenly and is at the one leaf stage.

All the winter rape has now been treatedwith a graminicide to control the volunteer cereals. Any crops nottreated should now be treated as a matter of urgency since with therain the volunteers will grow rapidly and compete vigorously withthe small rape plants.

Also make sure to use robust rates of theherbicides since these chemicals are notoriously slow to act andthe large plants will need higher rates.

Some winter wheat and winter barley cropshave been treated with a pre-emergence herbicide and the remainingwill now be treated during the week commencing 12 October,particularly where blackgrass is a problem.

It is important to control blackgrassbefore it gets beyond the three-leaf stage and ensure thatherbicides from different chemical groups are used in mixtureswhere resistance is present.

Blackgrass will have a prolonged dormancythis year and so it will be necessary to apply robust rates of longlasting residual herbicides.

Oilseed rape crops have remained largelyclear of phoma but with the arrival of the recent rain, be vigilantand look out for the typical creamy white leaf spots with blackdots and be prepared to spray.

Most rape crops are small this year so itmay be appropriate to use a non-plant growth regulator fungicidefor the control of phoma.

The rain is also going to throw up theperennial slug problem.

Check crops regularly and apply slugpellets but also bear in mind the metaldehyde stewardshipguidelines.