North: Few spray days despite the dry weather

Considering the last two months have mostly been extremely dry, the number of good spray days have been few and far between due to constant strong winds. These persistent winds have caused serious delays, but most have now caught up by making good use of the few recent spray windows available.

Disease pressure has been low in wheats with very little mildew, yellow rust and eyespot. The T1 fungicide dose has been matched accordingly and thankfully most have now been applied now that some wet weather has increased the Septoria tritici pressure.

With many T1 fungicides delayed they will have hit part of leaf 2 which will allow the opportunity for the T2 fungicide to be applied at full flag leaf emergence rather than during flag leaf emergence. SDHI fungicides will be used on most crops at T2, but the poorer crops will struggle to justify such investment unless Septoria tritici pressure suddenly explodes.

Thin and open crops have allowed late flushes of weeds, such as fat hen and black bindweed, which has added to the herbicide spend. However, I am unlikely to have this problem next year as I can already detect a tidal wave of early drilling so next year I will no doubt be complaining crops are too thick and forward!

Awns are emerging on winter barley crops and the T2 timing is approaching. The awns make a useful contribution to yield so it is worth waiting for them to emerge so they can be protected.

Many of the most popular varieties tend to have weaknesses against brown rust so fungicide choice will take this into consideration. Not many winter barley crops have required late season plant growth regulators and where they have rates have been kept much lower than in recent years.

Spring barleys crops are starting to grow quickly now and are approaching the T1 fungicide timing. Disease pressure has been low, but recent rains will have increased the rhynchosporium pressure.

Broad-leaved weeds can often be controlled at the same time. However, several crops have low plant populations due to patchy emergence or seed rates being too low to account for the later drillings so further flushes could still occur due to lack of crop competition.

The oilseed rape nightmare continues with crops still being written off due to such a poor spring which has prevented any form of crop recovery. Most crops are flowering now so attention is now focussed on spraying fungicides for sclerotinia control.

Seed weevil numbers are much higher than usual. Often these weevils are found in higher numbers on headlands, but this year they are abundant across whole fields and are exceeding threshold in some instances.

Winter beans are beginning to flower and with such a prolonged dry spell then chocolate spot levels have been low. Recent rains will have increased the risk so a fungicide at early to mid flower will be applied.

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