We have had a very smooth drilling period with little interference from the weather. I wish the same could be said about the chemical applications.

We seem to have had weeks of high winds. The fact that OSR broad-leaved weed sprays have been delayed may have compromised control – particular weeds that may cause concern are cranesbill and poppies. If these weeds are present I am considering the use of Bifenox, but this can only be applied under a Specific Off Label Application (SOLA). I hope the level of control will match last year’s results. 

The moisture content of cereal seed-beds varies greatly, depending on location, soil type and cultivations. The present dry weather has reduced the effectiveness of stale seed-beds, with less blackgrass germinating now than in early-drilled rape crops. Failure to reduce blackgrass numbers pre-drilling will create challenges later in the year, so be prepared.

Pre-emergence sprays on blackgrass land will be based around flufenacet, with further stacks such as prosulfocarb or tri-allate on challenging land.  The new opportunity to use flupyrsulfuron-methyl pre emergence and in sequence with iodosulfuron/mesosulfuron in winter wheat will increase options for blackgrass control, as well as giving a useful level of control of the more difficult broad-leaved weeds.  This approach will prevent further applications of ALS chemistry later in the year.

As the wheat crops emerge we will be turning our attention to aphid control, if an appropriate insecticide seed dressing has not been used.

Fertiliser planning is currently a priority; there is a need to get the nutrient balance correct to maximise returns.  Recent grain sulphur: nitrogen ratio tests and soil phosphate and potassium tests have highlighted some concerns which need addressing. The key to nutrient planning is to continue to monitor and have a plan!