This last month has passed very quickly – it must be because the annual battle is nearly over! Since the last report we have had a mixed bag of weather, with either very hot weather (my nose is testament to this!). I think we have had a further 2-3″ since the last report, which is nothing compared to the south of the country, but, due to being a lot in short periods has caused crop damage.

Spraying conditions have probably been as difficult as I can remember with rainfall plus windy conditions at all the critical timings, which has caused issues with intervals. The annual nitrogen battle started 4 weeks earlier this year, but I am pleased to say that clients held off as long as possible. This is good because the price weakened a tad from its starting point, so we are now back to normal with orders being put in place at or around Cereals, which is where it should be, not back in May when not all the nitrogen had been applied!

Some barley crops are very flat despite having growth regulators applied. Crops that are down are generally those on exposed sights and probably with too high a nitrogen rate. Other than this, crops that are upright are very clean and have pretty much finished flowering and now at cheesy ripe so hopefully further lodging risks will now start to dwindle.

Early sown spring barley crops are poking their ears out and looking as though they have good potential. I do not think malting crops will have an issue getting the nitrogen specification this season, as most looked short of N by the 3rd week of May by which point I dare not put a top up on (although did do on some of the feed/seed crops).

Further to my last report the weather was so atrocious and on speaking with various experts decided to spray all the winter oilseed rape a second time to protect against late sclerotinia infections. Product was on farm (oh ye of little faith! I managed to scrape together enough prothioconazole for those who were not bumping against the 1.27l/ha limit and Filan/Prosaro for those who were) and clients were spraying by the Wednesday 23rd May weather permitting.

Having said that, the rape would be flowering for at least another 10-14 days at the beginning of that week, the sun came out over the weekend along with wind and pretty much all the crops dropped their petals at the same time!

No sign of any crops being any where ready for desiccation before the end of this month, but as with everything this season this may change as the sun is out this morning and already 15 degrees! Battered crops have sort of picked themselves up but I am still not sure what the impact on combining and yield will be.

I have never seen wheat with septoria like it is all I can really say! Got myself into a lather when I started looking at crops for T3 some two weeks ago, to the point where a couple of very nice men (you know who you are!) came for a gander at what I was panicking about. The man from Ireland said that this was medium septoria levels for them, so I’m glad I do not have to contend with Irish septoria!

The upshot is that we finally have a septoria year, because we have got used to looking at leaf 1-5 being green and clean and the fact that pretty much everything below leaf 3 is gone comes as a bit of a shock. Have come to the conclusion that any crops that are overly thick and second wheats, the disease control is not very clever with leaf 3 showing visible septoria symptoms already. Also second wheats are not very clever with signs of take all (pretty much all second wheat is dressed with a take all dressing and rightly or wrongly treated with flouxystrobin at T1 as well).

Scorch and individual plants with wheat looks like BYDV symptoms. It is also noticeable that different varieties have reacted differently to the weather conditions, suggesting that some are more able to cope, in that disease control on some varieties is much better than others even though timing and product choice were similar (e.g. at Cereals unsprayed Stigg had more septoria than Relay next door to it! So Humber and Solstice are the two cleanest varieties that I have both with leaf 4 clean as of last week.

Most first wheat that I have seen in the last week where not too thick and has leaf 3 clean- 5-10% infection, which when speaking to people either at cereals or locally seems to be good for the year! All crops had SDHI (bixafen + prothioconazole) chemistry at T2, so it will be interesting to see how long it keeps the septoria at bay.

T3 applications started Wednesday 6th June on the earliest crops and will be continuing through to this week on the later sown crops. Some lodging is evident, particularly on overlaps on turning headlands, but no disaster stories as yet. I cannot help but think that second wheat yields are not going to be that clever, but that first wheats that are not overly thick look pretty good.

Talking yields I remember last year thinking that all was going to be a disaster and we ended up with record yields, so all we can do is wait and see! And hope for a good summer and easy combining time.