The mild weather in October has allowed some of the backward oilseed rape to get away now, although there are some fields that may be written off due to very poor establishment. The first fungicide application for phoma has worked well and we now need to hope for some colder, drier weather so that we can get back on the fields with the second application of fungicide with Kerb (propyzamide) or Astrokerb (aminopyralid + propyzamide).

We have used Sebrant (penthiopyrad + picoxystrobin) for phoma and light leaf spot as it has the benefit of stimulating extra root growth. Most crops have received two treatments of insecticide for aphids and cabbage stem flea beetle.

The winter barleys have had any post-emergence herbicide, aphicide and manganese applied and they all look well. I am particularly impressed with the hybrids and how well they look in some difficult situations (700 feet above sea level on clay cap, drilled 1 week October). The low seed rates always worry you to begin with, but once up, the crop soon reassures you.

Second cereals have seen some slug issues in the last week and if this damp, mild weather continues they may become a real problem, as it may be difficult to travel even with a quad on some ground. The early drilled wheat have now had all its autumn treatments and is looking well set for the winter. The later drilled wheat mainly behind maize is only just coming through and pre-emergence herbicides have been missed in some cases. This is going to be a headache unless we get some dry weather, as ground conditions will not allow the sprayer to travel.

About 20% of the acreage destined for wheat after maize has not been drilled and these will now be changed to spring wheat, which could be drilled anytime from now onwards. The resulting bare maize stubbles may become a real issue if soil erosion takes place, so I urge you all to try and do something to reduce this.

Tip of the week: If the weather changes from the damp mild conditions we have now to colder drier conditions, then you may be able stop worrying about slugs on cereals and start worrying about pigeons in oilseed rape, so a watchful eye over the whole farm is required.