One should never wish for rain, but it is very dry and nitrogen applied to cereals some three weeks ago is only just being taken up. Light-land cereals are looking somewhat pale and sorry for themselves.

There are rumours that we may get wet on Wednesday – let’s hope so. Frosts are still occurring and it would be very helpful if this aspect of the weather gave up the ghost as well.

I’m really pleased with winter linseed crops which are branching out well. Some are now 15cm tall with good ground coverage. Winter losses are about 2-3% of plants, certainly no higher.

Pigeons do like linseed, albeit not to the same degree as oilseed rape, and the problem seems to be rising now. I suspect this is because the oilseed rape is getting to a point where they cannot land, so they are turning to the next easy target.

Winter oilseed rape has grown a foot in the last week and, in the main, crops are looking very good. It is widely reported that pollen beetles had a great time last week, but I did not find any fields at threshold levels. With the frost last night and day temperatures not set to get above 15C this week, I suspect that the majority of my crops will not need spraying.

However, I will keep an eye on late-sown crops or those which have suffered from pigeon damage, as these may be at risk due to the lateness of coming into bud. Most crops have had a growth regulatory spray and the remainder are being sprayed with prothioconazole.

Winter wheat is a mixed bag, but early-sown crops on fertile ground now at GS30 plus and not suffering from nitrogen shortage. Where crops are relying on nitrogen out of the bag, a good two to three days of gentle rain would certainly help green them up.

The ups and downs of day/night temperature fluctuations are also not helping. We reached the dizzy heights of 18C last Thursday, which then dropped to 0C at night.

I’m now feeling more confident about applying Atlantis (iodosulfuron + iodosulfuron) and Broadway Star (florasulam + pyroxsulam). Some crops are receiving a fungicide in with Broadway Star or a half rate of chlormequat, depending upon growth stage and/or variety,

If you are mixing Cycocel with Broadway Star do not mix in anything else, not even trace elements.

This week, soil temperatures are now up to 8C and increasing, although I am delaying applications where spring-germinating wild oats are taking their time to come through.

There are no signs of yellow rust yet, although mildew is at high levels on some crops of Humber on fertile land, despite the cold nights. I am, therefore, applying a mildewicide at T0 on Humber.

Winter barley crops are again variable, but in the main disease levels are low. Net blotch is the most obvious disease and I will be recommending T1 sprays from the end of this week, depending on temperatures and rainfall. Most crops will have their final application of nitrogen this week.