Most spring sowing has now been completed – even maize drilling has begun in April. Spring beans have been attacked by weevil at emergence – especially where seed-beds were cloddy – and have required treatment. The clods seem to provide a safe haven for the pest. Linseed is also emerging – and flea beetle treatments have been made where leaf damage was occurring.

Spring barley has emerged well – surprisingly so where seed-beds were dry. Patience in drilling has paid off – but we have ended up with later-than-desired drilling dates. So we will need some good growing conditions – rain and warmth – in May and June. The best establishment is where seed has been drilled into a reasonable tilth with retained moisture – this has not been easy to achieve.

Winter crops have generally grown on in April despite little rainfall and some cold nights. A dry April has encouraged most winter crops to develop a good root structure.

The most forward wheats are now at growth stage 32 and are receiving their T1 fungicide treatments. Disease levels are lower than last year, but septoria is evident on lower leaves –  and some rust has been noted, particularly in Kielder. Dry conditions mean that some growers have front loaded their nitrogen applications – so growth regulator treatments may need to reflect this.

It’s always a good time of year to investigate sprayer misses in wheat fields – especially grassweed treatments. They demonstrate how crucial the graminicide treatments are and underline the benefits of well timed pre- and post-emergence spray sequences – even where blackgrass populations are not massive.

Winter rape has now started to flower with all nitrogen now applied. Preventative sclerotinia treatments are being made – hopefully in advance of rainfall. Canopies are well branched and crops are not too tall – so far.

Winter bean crops look pleasing. Pre-emergence grassweed treatments have worked very well and have required little overspraying – not that this is likely to be successful. Bentazone treatments have also been made in good conditions to suppress charlock. The most forward beans are now flowering and receiving fungicide treatments. At present they look an easier option to spring beans – time will tell which reward best.