The weather in the past four weeks has been a mixed bag. Temperatures have increased and although it has been somewhat unsettled in some localities, crop colour has improved and spring barley drilling has moved on apace. However, due to the frequent showers and the slow start to the season, cultivators are uncovering wet holes and raw soil.

 

Most crops will have received a dressing of nitrogen and some winter barleys may have received a T0 spray if disease levels warranted. Disease levels have generally been low with traces of rhyncosporium, net blotch and mildew. A robust triazole/strobiluron will probably suffice with the addition of a mildewicide if required. The prices quoted for the newer SDHI’s do not encourage more than a look-see.

 

Winter oilseed rape crops having got hold of their initial nitrogen top dressing, are starting to stretch and will require a protective spray application for light leaf spot. In general, although perhaps a touch higher than last year, the levels of this disease are low.

 

Prothioconazole-based products have fitted this slot well. The ever-present cool winds and low overnight temperatures mean that so far pollen beetles are opting to remain in hibernation. However, do not assume that they are not going to appear, keep checking crops, particularly backward ones, and only consider spraying with a pyrethroid-insecticide if threshold levels are reached.

 

Winter wheats are looking well with the exception of late-sown fields on heavy clay. However, even the most forward wheat crops are only now approaching the T0 timing. If yellow rust is not present then a robust rate of tebuconazole and a multi-site inhibitor (chlorothalonil or mancozeb) should cope with the low levels of septoria.