If there is one way to sum up the season ahead it is one word: unpredictable. To illustrate this, the heat wave in Scotland at the end of March has vanished and April has started with >15 degree drop in temperature.
By the time you read this some of the planted ridges may well be covered by a couple of inches of snow. Good progress had been made in the later end of March by most growers subject to attitude to frost risk and whether they had finished cereal drilling.
While Scotland will never be in drought it has experienced an unusually dry winter. Growers that were patient and waited for land to dry to plough have reaped the benefit, with soils with good structure, comparatively dry and in good condition to plant with high soil temperatures .
Early plantings have gone in well. Dry soil conditions may increase the risk of soil borne Rhizoctonia particularly if soil temperature drops and delays emergence. Growers should consider use of azoxystrobin in furrow where fields have a history of Rhizoctonia problems.
Thoughts also now turn to herbicides, as if temperatures rise again, emergence could be up to 10 days earlier than normal. Metribuzin remains a key component to any herbicide program. Some growers continue to be able to apply low doses well before emergence to susceptible varieties with out any phytotoxity in Scotland. However, care will be required if conditions are as dry as they were in England last year which resulted in phytotoxity in a range of varieties.
A growing problem in NE is annual meadow grass with the reduced rates of linuron not providing adequate control. Reduced rates of flufenacet + metribuzin are proving the most effective replacement. If it does remain dry, then tank mixing herbicides with a range of solubilities could be the best strategy. We will wait and see a weeks along time in Scottish weather.