15 February 2013: As high pressure is set to build across the UK perhaps it will dry up enough to get back in the fields. First applications of nitrogen + sulphur will be required for all oilseed rape crops that have managed to make it through the winter followed by outstanding fungicides for phoma control. Monitor Light Leaf Spot development too. Winter barley will also need a first fertiliser dose and if conditions allow a herbicide for many. Wheat crops that managed to tiller before the winter set in should now be at the double-ridge stage of meristem development and time to assess for stem based and early foliar diseases to determine the need for a T0 fungicide. Septoria is present on older leaves and but as yet no sign of any rusts or mildew. Backward crops of wheat will benefit from an early dose of nitrogen too. Keep an eye out too for Wheat Bulb Fly hatch especially in backward crops.
Nitrogen+Sulphur: for winter oilseed rape
First N+S: for winter barley and second wheat crops
Blackgrass: needs controlling
Phoma: still present where no autumn fungicides applied
First signs: of Light Leaf Spot
It's wet with many fields still waterlogged.
Eastern Counties: It is still very wet and as such we are un-able to do anything in the field except on a hard frost. A light covering of snow in some areas at the beginning of the week. 85-90% planned drilling complete. Just wheat after sugar beet which may not have been drilled. Crops vary from 1 leaf to 3 or 4 tillers. Soil mineral nitrogen results suggest that levels of N in the soil are not significantly below average levels despite the rain. Septoria tritici: trace levels on lower leaves.
Septoria tritici: trace levels on lower leaves
Slugs: cold weather has brought an end to activity so far.
Weed control: grass weeds now tillering where they haven't been controlled but autumn applications, this includes blackgrass, ryegrass, meadow grass and bromes
East Midlands: Crops vary from 2 tillers to 1 leaf but majority remain at 2-3 leaves. Late drilled with 1 leaf just through struggling with poor root systems and no seed reserve left - they are exhausted. Extremely wet and saturated with no fieldwork in the foreseeable future unless weather turns dry for a long period. Many fields with lying water in parts.
Slugs: continue to be active in 'mild' periods.
Weed control: Levels of blackgrass remain generally low with many plants small so not a major concern yet - presumably blackgrass seed has rotted just like the wheat - any spraying unlikely until March. Meadow grass and broad-leaved weeds remain low and may be possible to save some money using just broad-leaved weed herbicides in spring.
West Midlands: The most forward crops now have three or more tillers and have reached the double-ridge stage. These more established crops are coping better with the continued waterlogged conditions although yellowing of older leaves is obvious. Later sown crops are at the two to three leaf stage and desperately need a dry period to help establish. Some very late sown crops which have yet to emerge, seed has rotted in some places.
Slugs: damage has been severe in some fields and these will now be resown with spring barley.
Septoria tritici: obvious on lower leaves on forward crops.
Fusarium: early symptoms on stem bases in some but not all crops.
Weed control: where no autumn herbicides applied there are some very large grass weeds as well as cleavers and a fine selection of other broad-leaved weeds.
North East: Most fields at field capacity restricting the field work. Most wheat crops now at the two tiller stage. Nitrogen applications planned for early March on second wheats and poor first wheats.
Slugs: were visible in mild period early January. Not seen in colder weather.
Septoria tritici: active on lower leaves of some varieties
Weed control: herbicide applications have been delayed by the rains.
Winter Oilseed Rape
Phoma still active where no autumn control
Eastern Counties: Seeing a little growth in centre of plants. Generally on the lighter soils in NW Norfolk rape looks well, at about the right stage for the time of year generally sitting close to the ground with relatively large plants. Only crops to be abandoned are some direct drilled fields where slugs thinned the crops to below acceptable populations.
Phoma: Phoma spotting obvious but the majority of crops were treated in November and the lesions are old. Planning to apply any outstanding phoma sprays to crops not treated ASAP.
Light Leaf Spot: some just appearing will continue to monitor in case a spray is needed prior to stem extension.
Slugs: are still grazing even on well established crops with large plants. Although they are unlikely to further affect final establishment on these crops they are causing a lot of leaf holing.
Pigeons: have stripped a few crops or areas of crops and vigilance is now needed to keep them off these crops/areas as re-growth starts. It is noticeable that during the snow cover they grazed the larger plants where foliage was not completely buried by the snow.
Weed control: the frost has hammered large charlock plants.
East Midlands: Crops are all over the place - very few good crops with a few at 4-5 leaves. I estimate that only about 60% of the autumn sown rape remains viable with quite a few patchy fields where lying wet. Root systems are not good in crops with small plants.
Slugs: continue to feast themselves.
Phoma: with a lot of unsprayed crops I expect to see some phoma in crops this year.
Pigeons: a lot badly pigeon damaged with only stems showing and some of the smaller plants have had growing points removed.
Weed control: many crops did not get Kerb on and now waiting for some drier conditions to get carbetamide on. Where Kerb went on in November results have been good. Some crops still to have volunteers removed.
West Midlands: Crops range from abandoned to 9 true leaves. There are quite a few crops still struggling to survive the combined onslaught of rain, slugs, pigeons and frosts. Spring oilseed rape is the preferred option to replace failing winter crops. N+S applications planned as soon as spreaders can travel, however, this could be another two weeks away for some heavier waterlogged soils.
Phoma: still crops in need of treatment.
Slugs: still active and doing damage.
Pigeons: severe damage to some fields.
Weed control: frosts have knocked back some of the larger charlock plants.
North East: Crops range from 3 to 9 true leaves. However, 5-10% of crops have suffered heavily from prolonged wet conditions, slug and more recently pigeon damage.
Slugs: damage has been severe but activity reduced in cold weather.
Pigeons: a lot of damage to crops after Christmas, and crops are more vulnerable owing to late plantings.
Phoma: old lesions apparent but not many new spores seen so far.
Weed control: larger Runch and Charlock have been checked by the recent frosts.
Eastern Counties: Crops at the three to four tiller stage with very little disease.
East Midlands: Crops at 1-3 leaves. many crops still to receive an herbicide.
West Midlands: Most forward at start of tillering.
North East: All winter barley has emerged now, and most crops range from GS11 to 21. A few areas being grazed by slugs now.