Drier weather during March has allowed plenty of field work to be completed. Most winter barley and oilseed rape crops will be due their final nitrogen top dressing towards the end of the month, although the timing on oilseed rape will depend on crop height, unless applying a later application of liquid.
Spring barley has generally been drilled into very good seed-beds, although some of the later-ploughed, heavier soils need to dry a bit more. Pre-emergence herbicides are being applied to spring barley crops where grassweeds are an issue.
Winter barley crops are being sprayed with T0 fungicides and early plant growth regulator applications. There is plenty of mildew, net blotch and rhynchosporium visible and levels need suppressing to maximise tiller retention and drive yield.
Oilseed rape is trying to move rapidly through stem extension, although some cold nights and daytime winds seem to be holding crops back a bit. Once stem extension gets underway again most crops will be sprayed with a PGR fungicide.
Any backward crops will be monitored for light leaf spot, but will probably not get a fungicide until late green bud/early yellow bud. Tissue sampling of oilseed rape is showing low levels of P/K/Mg and Mn. Foliar applications of these nutrients will be included in with fungicide treatments to cover this period of high demand.
September-sown wheats are likely to reach T0 timing at the earliest around 20th March. T0 and early PGR treatments are planned for the last 7-10 days of March, although the later drilled wheats and slower-developing varieties are likely to drift into the first week of April.
At this time of year, wheat crops tend to sit at each of these early growth stages for a long time. Spraying T0 too early can result in a long interval before T1 timing and allow disease back into the crop.
Mildew and septoria are very evident this year across many varieties and yellow rust can also be found quite easily in varieties like Solstice and Oakley. Most T0 treatments will be based on triazole + morpholine products to control active disease. In UAP trials the average value of the T0 fungicide over the last 10 years is 0.4t/ha.