Unlike last year where harvest seemed to happen, this year it has been very staged with winter barley done quickly then a delay while rapes matured then slowly we are munching our way through spring barley and wheat.

First wheats on heavy ground appear to be yielding exceptionally well with Viscount and Oakley performing well again although the plants are one or two shoots short. They appear to have compensated in the ear, bearing in mind most of these crops would be late in uptaking nitrogen, it is something to think about for future seasons.

Now the mind is being focused on future cropping and those growers who had winter barley have managed to put rape back in to good seedbeds. In general in the north, rape is best established in August which has been possible after winter barley, but some of our rape following spring barley and wheat will creep in to September.

Weed control in rape is fairly straight forward, I will be using quinmerac + metazachlor as this takes care of most of the weed spectrum. This is applied pre emergence or at expanded cotyledon stage depending on establishment technique bear in mind the new label restrictions on metazachlor if growing rape in tight rotations.

There is a big flush of volunteers in early drilled crops and I will be taking these out with propaquizafop to remove the competition. Most seed sown is dressed with Cruiser or Modesto, so flea beetle damage is rarely seen although I am noticing large numbers of aphids.

I am trying to urge growers to adhere to the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group guidelines on metaldehyde use, although at moment there doesn’t appear to be high levels of slugs in rape crops, but will continue to monitor.

Some early wheats are starting to be drilled in to quite good seedbeds after rape and these will be monitored for slug activity. Most wheat that we drill in to this slot is now treated with Redigo Deter as part of an integrated approach. This, in line with a well consolidated seedbed, will hopefully reduce the number of metaldehyde applications required, but again we will monitor these crops carefully.

Despite poor yields and returns from winter barley this season it is still a important crop in our rotation because there is demand for crop and also it allows timely entry of rape.

As cereals get drilled we will look at herbicide options, but due to success of last year’s options these will be mainly based around reduced rate pre/peri emergence herbicides as we are mainly targeting annual meadow grass in this area.