Before Christmas I said that if we didn’t have a prolonged cold spell soon, with diseases creeping in to all cereal crops, we would be in for a very challenging spring. Well we’ve had our cold snap, and crops have certainly been held in check, but whether it has been prolonged enough to reduce disease pressure significantly we’ll have to wait and see.

 

Many cereal crops still look quite lush, especially on the coastal plain and there will be no need to rush in with early nitrogen this year. The weather has not yet warmed up enough to think about follow-up grass weed treatments yet so it’s still a waiting game.

Crops treated with Atlantis in the autumn have now had long enough to see how well it has worked. Any survivors need to be scrutinised to ascertain whether it is down to poor efficacy conditions, or maybe tested later for resistance. If it is the latter it signals even greater need for comprehensive strategies to deal with the problem.

Oilseed rape crops have shrunk back nicely in the cold weather, which is cheaper than triazole fungicides. Growers with outstanding graminicide/carbetamide recommendations have been told to hold off while the weather has been quite so cold, and hopefully there will be an opportunity to wrap them up before the end of the month. When it does warm up we’ll be looking at stem-extension fungicides – that’s when I think the growth regulatory effect is worthwhile.

We have still had much less than average rainfall in the south. Whilst the soils are certainly not dry they still seem to travel very well. With that in mind people are turning their attention to glyphosate spraying and drilling, which may well have started by the time this goes to press. My worry is that nature has an uncanny way of balancing itself out. We could be in for a very wet spring this year.