Much improved weather in the past few weeks has given growers an opportunity to attempt to catch up with winter ploughing. However, in late lifted potato fields where soil structure was more or less destroyed, gentle handling will be required to get them back into order to plant spring barley.
On the whole autumn sown crops have improved since the turn of the year due to the generally clement growing conditions. Winter barley crops that had shown typical yellow patches in the autumn due to waterlogged soils have greened up well. Mildew can be found at low levels which will require treatment, along with a net blotch/rhyncosporium spray plus a top up of manganese when ground conditions allow.
Winter wheat crops are generally more dense than I care to see. A robust growth regulator programme will be the order of the day probably commencing with the T0 fungicide treatment.
Oilseed rape crops are more variable with the majority looking well. Light leaf spot is present in some crops especially those which missed out on an autumn application due to the challenging spraying conditions. An early application of flusilasole and/or prothioconazole should be included in the spray schedule.
There should be no great rush to apply early nitrogen to most crops once the NVZ shutters are open in a fortnight’s time. Crop nitrogen levels are more than adequate for the time being. The effect of the extreme conditions during last year’s cereal harvest and potato lifting will no doubt come back to haunt us. Thus checking the soil nutrient status of potential problem fields is vital.