Drilling is progressing at a fantastic pace due to settled weather. Good
seed-beds are being achieved with the earliest winter wheat crops now at the two- to three-leaf stage.
If no insecticide seed dressing has been used, such as Deter, then these early crops will soon need treating with a pyrethroid insecticide to control aphids. This can often be tank mixed with manganese where required.
Slug pressure so far has been low as seed-beds are generally good and conditions are dry. There has been a little slug grazing on wheat after oilseed rape so be on the lookout for damage until the crop has reached the three-leaf stage.
With seed-beds quite dry there is a debate about whether to delay applying pre-emergence herbicides to wheat for the control of blackgrass. However, trial work indicates that it is still worthwhile applying these herbicides, particularly if the crop was drilled into moisture.
Oilseed rape crops seem to have doubled in size in the last 10 days and most have established extremely well, to the point where seed rates could have been reduced significantly with the benefit of hindsight.
Flea beetle damage is becoming more obvious as seed dressings become more diluted in larger plants so treat with a pyrethroid insecticide if damage is severe. This will also limit egg-laying by adults and subsequent plant damage by larvae later in the year. Leaf miner damage is evident in some crops but it often looks worse than what it is so rarely needs specific treatment.
Graminicides such as tepraloxydim have been applied to oilseed rape to control grassweeds such as blackgrass. With the ever-increasing resistance to fop and dim herbicides the level of control ranges from average to good.
However, with a larger area of oilseed rape drilled with a subsoiler it should give residual herbicides such as propyzamide and carbetamide a better chance to give good control. This is because grass weeds emerge from a shallow depth due to low soil disturbance.