North: Virus carrying aphids causing concern

What joy to have decent crops with loads of potential, and relief to have a nice drying spell. Nearly all fields are now fit to travel, though its clear where drainage systems are failing. We’ve been throwing nitrogen and sulphur fertiliser on virtually all crops and they are just starting to respond. Potash is also flying, though its not critical just yet. Lime levels have held up quite well, but one consequence of growing more barley is the evident patches of acidity now showing up – so some patch treatment will certainly be an option.

Autumn-applied herbicides have worked exceptionally well, so we only have to mop-up a few situations. This includes eliminating the volunteer oats which were shed last harvest and have left some wheats looking more like silage.  The few un-sprayed crops need sorting-out quickly.

Growers are all on the starting blocks for T0 fungicide applications, starting in this next week on many crops. Make sure that you know what your programme is going to be and that you’ve got the vital fungicides ordered. Timing and intervals are just as important as what you apply – so ensure that you are fully in control of your schedule. This first application is vital, but don’t start too soon, and there’s certainly no point going until crops have woken up and stood upright.

I’m paranoid about aphids and barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV); crops are clearly at high risk and insect activity can be seen everywhere. Therefore, all doses will include cypermethrin and any delayed T0 sprays are being pre-empted now with just cypermethrin and manganese.

The potent sulfonylurea (SU) herbicides targeting grass weeds are not being used yet – they must wait until warmer conditions, as cold nights will only mean poor control; it’s vital to wait for mild conditions and apply them separately. After using any SU, make sure that you fully clean down sprayers before entering any oilseed rape, as the merest sniff will destroy it.

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