West: Cold spell continues to dominate

Since last writing the cold weather has continued to control crop development or the lack of it. This has been made worse by the fact that we have had no rain to help take nitrogen into the rooting zone. Having said this we have now had some rain over the weekend and temperatures have risen.

There is alot of frost damage in wheat crops with wet patches in fields now beginning to die back as the entire plant has been heaved out of the ground. There is little that can be done to remedy this situation but in less severe cases, where the roots are exposed but the plant is still anchored, rolling may help.

The cold spell has not helped with attempts to build canopies in rape crops. The crop has taken up nitrogen and gone a good colour but has not done much growing. With milder and wetter weather now upon us this situation should change rapidly. Fungicide choice at stem extension will be interesting this year.

Should we be using a growth regulatory fungicide with as yet still small canopies. I will be looking closely at the size of the root system underneath the plants in order to answer this dilemma. Small canopy but large roots will still receive a PGR type fungicide but where the crop has small canopy and also poor roots an alternative product will be used at stem extension.

The most forward wheat crops are now well tillered and some are approaching GS 30 and will receive a T0 application of fungicide along with some PGR and any required minor nutrients by the end of the month. More backward crops have a much poorer root system underneath them and at the moment do not have enough tillers.

These crop will receive a chlormequat application shortly to encourage root development and tiller numbers. I am finding very little weed in crops this spring. I would like to believe that the autumn residuals have worked so well that the weed has all been controlled but I rather suspect that we are facing a late flush of weed at some stage. We will need to be vigilant on this score. Septoria is very prevalent in most crops with no sign of rust or mildew at all. As usual in this part of the world Septoria control will be the main focus at T0 and T1.

Barley crops have come through the winter surprisingly well but there is some paricularly aggressive looking Rynchosporium present, especially in crops of Saffron. This will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. These crops will receive a split T1 or a T0 with the first part being applied before the end of the month.

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