Wheat growth stages are very variable, with some fast approaching GS30 and others struggling to show much growth at all. Heavy land crops where it has set wet, cold and compacted look very discoloured. These will have had nitrogen and will require warmer temperatures to generate some growth. Aphids have still been found within crops and if they did not receive their autumn insecticide treatment have been sprayed accordingly, along with manganese.
Blackgrass control has been variable, with majority of autumn residuals performing well. However, the regular blackgrass patches have produced yet more germination. Those that never had an autumn Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) application are waiting for increased temperatures and better growing conditions.
Yellow rust has been very apparent in certain varieties, with Reflection and Lili being two that have caused early concern. It is important that before reviewing the fungicide programme the AHDB Recommended List is consulted to ensure the weaknesses for the variety are targeted. Most strategies will contain a triazole for curative action, along with chlorothalonil, which combined give protective control of septoria.
Winter barleys would be visible from space with how fluorescent some are currently looking. Nitrogen applications are being made and once the weather becomes warmer, micronutrients will soon alleviate this. Manganese deficient crops, whether previously treated or not will require a manganese application once the crop begins growing again.
Light leaf spot and phoma is being found within oilseed rape crops that haven’t had their foliage decimated by pigeons. Some treatments are being made prior to stem elongation to prevent further infection. Where growth regulation is required, tebuconazole and metconazole will be the main focus.
There still remains some decisions to be made on the viability of crops badly affected by flea beetle larvae. Nitrogen has been applied in the hope it will grow away from the damage, but a lot of these crops have lost their foliage and with this comes a loss of nitrogen within the crop. Time will tell whether nitrogen applications have been made in vain once the soils begin to warm.
In deficient situations, take the opportunity to top-up boron by tank-mixing with fungicide applications. High winter rainfall and wet soils will have reduced availability.
Spring drilling has begun with both barley and beans being planted. However, where soils have slumped after winter rainfall, drilling will be delayed to allow aeration through lifting to avoid poor root growth. If soils are wet it is better to alleviate compaction and avoid the temptation to drill early. Also be aware on heavy land of slug pressure with spring drilled crops. Slug activity has been very obvious just below the soil surface and spring barley in particular will be carefully monitored.
Sugar beet at time of writing will await some milder temperatures as well. Drilling into cold soil conditions can give rapid emergence, but slow and protracted growth, leading to poor weed control and herbicide damage.