Since my last report we have had a glorious spell of weather, allowing most growers to catch up with autumn planting. There are still some wheat crops to go in after combining maize, fodder beet and other late-harvested crops, but by and large planting is as far on as it could be.

Winter rape has grown incredibly well in the dry, mild spell we have had with canopies if anything too thick. This, however, could change fairly rapidly with some proper winter weather. At the moment I am not too concerned about high GAI’s, particularly as most of the rape crops on my patch are low biomass varieties. In the last week I have seen the first phoma lesions. Crops will now start to get their autumn phoma fungicide, which will be flusilazole based.

Winter wheat crops are all over the place in terms of growth stage, ranging from just emerging to GS22. Volunteers from previous crops are proving to be more of a problem than usual due to the quick turnaround between crops. The worst offenders are volunteer beans and oats, both of which will require early removal as they are present in large and therefore competitive numbers.

Min-till ground is much worse than ploughed, but this is hardly surprising. A shortage of Pixie (the only remaining CMPP formulation approved for winter use in cereals) has lead to a change of tack in controlling volunteer beans. Low rates of clopyralid will be used. In the past I have found this to be an extremely effective herbicide for volunteer beans, giving more thorough control than CMPP at a similar cost.

Wheat and barley that hasn’t received a pre-emergence herbicide will be walked in the next week or so to decide upon a post-em strategy. Product choice will depend largely on the target grassweed population and/or the variety’s tolerance to CTU. Barley yellow dwarf virus control, where not dealt with on the seed dressing will take place in the same time frame.

I am receiving a few reports of slug damage to newly emerging wheat. This is mostly where the previous crop was oats or forage maize, with the latter being the worst affected situation. Growers should be watchful, particularly if the weather becomes colder and wetter. Wheat growth slows up and it remains vulnerable to slug damage for longer.