With parts of the region having not had a clear 24 hour period without rain since the first week of November, there is little to report in the way of field activity. In short there has been none.
The biggest concern as we approach early spring are crops that have yet to receive a herbicide and those drilled without Deter (clothianidin) seed treatment and have not yet received an aphicide for barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) control.
The expectation is that BYDV will be a clear and present danger to untreated crops, following a winter with little or no frost to kill aphids and, in fact, temperatures high enough for much of the winter to allow continued aphid activity within crop. Any crops that have not had an aphicide should receive one as soon as ground conditions allow. This may not be enough to prevent BYDV infection at this stage, but it should help to prevent further spread within the crop.
Grass weeds are well-tillered in crops that were not treated with a pre-emergence herbicide. My view is that it is now too late to worry about annual meadow grass in barley crops. The money will be better spent on a pre-harvest glyphosate.
There is still time to control grass weeds, particularly annual meadow grass, which is now big and well tillered in many untreated wheat crops. So long as daytime temperatures remain favourable, these crops should receive a herbicide as soon as ground conditions allow to remove grassweeds prior to them starting to compete with the crop for early applied nitrogen.
Oilseed rape crops are showing higher than normal levels of light leaf spot. This is in part due to the weather being favourable for disease development and in part the fact that it has been impossible to apply planned late autumn fungicides to control the disease. Again the applications should be made at the first available opportunity.
Many of the fields due to be planted after late harvested crops such as maize and beet have not been planted and it seems unlikely at this point, with the ground saturated that they will be. Spring barley is the most likely replacement crop. This will need to be planted into good seed-beds if it is to go on to perform well, which it has to.
A lot of damage was done to the soil in a lot of these fields from the harvesting of the previous crop. This will need to be rectified with sub soiling or deep cultivations prior to planting. Ground conditions will have to improve significantly before this can happen. Patience will be required.