Here we are at the end of October and in a ‘normal’ year I would expect to be about 90% drilled by now, with just some wheat behind maize to do. This year is somewhat different, with some farms drilled up and some still not managing to start ploughing. On average I think we’re about 30% drilled (28 October). What we’re left with is the heavier wetter land that is also more prone to blackgrass, so still use glyphosate pre-drilling where needed.

Crops that have gone into good conditions have emerged in about 14 days and the slugs have been far easier to control than those behind oilseed rape or where seed-beds have been cloddy. Seed depth has been variable so many have been treated at early emergence (if weather allows) rather than pre-emergence. Blackgrass has been germinating more than expected, even though dormancy is high.

I know bonfire night is only just around the corner, but I would still rather see crops going into good seed-beds rather than being mauled in just because we’re late. If they are smeared and mauled in, and they manage to get past the slugs, they will yield considerably less than expected. However, if put in well the yield reduction can often be slight. I would be nervous about putting in winter barley now, wheat is OK and oats fine.

Winter rape crops have grown on well, with the warm spell earlier this week but are still smaller than we would have expected but many fields have plants that are still emerging.  The majority I think will survive the winter so the early panic if off now. Some have needed up to six applications of slug pellets to get this far, others only one or two. The smaller crops still need checking regularly but the large crops should be OK by now, but keep an eye on them just in case.

Phoma is becoming easier to find now, so as soon as conditions allow they will need their first phoma spray. Capitan (fluzilazole) will be the main product this autumn. There is the odd crop that need some Sunorg Pro (metconazole), but these are few and far between.