Rain has all but stopped play in the drilling and spraying game at the moment. Save for fresh ploughed land after grass and maize, little land work has been possible over the last few days. I am pleased to report that this is currently only a minor blip in an otherwise excellent autumn. In truth, only a little drilling after the aforementioned grass and maize remains.

Crops have established well. We have not seen such even blocks of crops over the farms for a year or two and this bodes well for timely and well organised management next spring. Pre-emergence herbicides have been applied to all the early- and mid-season crops where grass weeds are a risk. Some of the later drillings that were not rolled are rather loose for pre-emergence and will have to wait until the tramlines are just visible. This may not give the best grassweed control, but I do not want to run the risk of crop damage if herbicide washes through to the emerging crop in the heavy showers we are experiencing. I have had quite enough of redrilling after last year, thank you very much!

Pre-ems are having a visible effect on blackgrass, especially where diflufenican is in the mix. There has been some concern amongst growers as to whether or not obviously sick blackgrass plants will take up post-emergence treatments. One manufacturer assures me that control will not be compromised and may even be better in these circumstances.

Maize crops have been the best for many seasons. High yielding early maturing types have meant that some wheat after maize has been established by mid October.

The oilseed rape crop has made its best start for a number of years. Vigorous even emergence and rapid growth has led to some very large canopies. Pre-emergence herbicides based on metazachlor/quinmerac and clomazone have performed well. Unsprayed plots in trials are very weedy. These materials are very expensive; it is useful, once in a while, to see what happens when they are not used.

At risk of being hung, drawn and quartered for breaking the commandment:  “Thou shalt not spray propyzamide until your feet are wet and frozen”, I have made the first application of Astrokerb (propyzamide + aminopyralid). I hasten to add this was for a huge population of spear thistle and docks, not grass weeds. The thistles and docks are showing clear symptoms of synthetic auxin damage. It will be valuable to see the long term effects on the docks.

Phoma has been difficult to find so far in Rape. The current rain will no doubt alter this.

Slug pellet use, over all crops, has been the lowest for many seasons. This is great news for metaldehyde stewardship.