What a difference a year makes. Apart from about 200 acres of wheat to go in after fodder beet, everyone is drilled up. The initial 20mm of rain four weeks ago dried up quickly, but consecutive weekends of substantial rain and rainfall during the last week has finally wet soils enough to kick residuals into action.

The dry weather seems to have affected barley the least.  Crops emerged within seven days of drilling and are still growing very quickly, but protracted drilling range means I have barley from two leaves to four tillers. Bar a couple of hundred acres, all has been sprayed, primarily with chlorotoluron + flufenacet/pendimethalin. A few early crops got quite severe mildew but frosts from three weeks ago put this to rest.

Later-sown oilseed rape crops have now fully emerged. Nitrogen was applied to these soon after the first rainfall and they are now growing away well. Crops with sludge/poultry litter and slurry are too big and thick – they are probably at GAI 3 already.  Most were sown at 60 seeds/sq m and could have been dropped to 30.

Prothioconazole + tebuconazole have been applied in an attempt to carry out some canopy management whilst ensuring good control of phoma/light leaf spot – there is evidence of both albeit not at threshold levels. It is the end of October/first week November and ideal conditions to apply – it’s too warm for Kerb as yet.

Due to very dry conditions early on I have the unusual scenario of wheat from one true leaf to four tillers in the same field. Growth of these crops is slow due to lost vigour whilst trying to cope with the dry conditions. Later sown crops are more even and growing well.

Virtually all crops have been sprayed. I have moved away from flufenacet-based products in the last few weeks and onto Othello (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron + diflufenican). Most early-drilled crops irrespective of variety have mildew present but it is not getting any worse.

Blackgrass is emerging very quickly in a few wheat crops and will be sprayed with Atlantis/Horus (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) soon. I also have a few crops with bad brome which I will probably try with Broadway Star (pyroxsulam + florsulam) either this month or next. I’m guilty of not using any last season, primarily because so little spraying was done in the autumn and we had to control annual meadowgrass in the spring, but will probably use a lot more this season.