The contrast between this yearand last could not be greater and as a result good progress hasbeen made drilling cereals.

Late-drilled crops that caught somemoisture have chitted and are emerging well. Unfortunately the samecannot be said for early-drilled crops. Some fields that wereplanted at depth have only just received enough moisture to chitand I fear a lot of seeds will not grow. Slugs, conspicuous bytheir absence until it rained, have now shown up.

But with the exception of wheat followingrape, damage levels are very low. If you have cloddy seed-bedsbeware. I did find some bad seed hollowing on one block followingrape.

Early-drilled crops that emerged well arenow at early tillering and if they where not treated with Deter(clothianidin) will require an aphicide very shortly. With the oddexception, blackgrass levels are low at the moment, but rainforecast this week will no doubt change that.

Most of my rape crops look remarkablywell considering the lack of moisture. The most forward crops,mostly following fallow, are about a foot tall and will receive adose of metconazole very shortly to steady them up.

At the other end of the scale, somefields have plants at six leaf while areas of the field are stillemerging. These crops represent a challenge and need assessing onan individual basis. Weed control in these will be difficult sincethe small plants are unlikely to get big enough to treat witheither Kerb (pronamide) or Crawler (carbetamide) before the end ofJanuary. Slug activity in rape fields is generally low but thesebackward crops are obviously still very vulnerable.