The weather on the eastern side of the country this past month has met with general approval by all and sundry. Late ploughing has been accomplished, drills have been going full tilt and many growers will have completed spring barley sowing.

Some potatoes have been planted in March. First time for many! Although it is very dry, some of the soil coming up from depth is a bit raw. Some seedbeds on heavier ground are quite cloddy. This will have implications for seed to soil contact. Dare I ask for a small quantity of rain?!!

Most crops will have had an application of nitrogen and are starting to show the benefit. However, some winter barleys are looking a bit shabby, possibly due to the low overnight temperatures that we have been experiencing, off and on. Many barleys will have received an early spray to take care of over-wintered disease, mainly mildew with a touch of rhyncosporium and net blotch. The next spray timing is the important, one so a robust treatment is called for. An SDHI could fit the bill or a triazole/strobilurin mix with the addition chlorothalonil will suffice depending on perceived disease pressure.

The high daytime temperatures may tempt pollen beetles out of hibernation and onto winter oilseed rape crops, however, the overnight lows may be curbing their enthusiasm. Spraying is justified if the threshold is reached up to green-yellow bud stage. Once the crop is flowering the beetles can get their supply of pollen without harm to the crop.

Wheat crops have in general appeared to be “slow out of the traps”. This may be due in part to the extreme diurnal temperature variations. However, they are at the usual growth stage for the time of year which is no bad thing. Over wintered septoria is apparent in most crops and mildew is commonplace. Yellow rust is exploiting varietal weaknesses, especially along the East coast. A robust dose of triazole with chlorothalonil, plus a mildewicide if required should be sufficient until T1.