The weather is still hindering operations as we move towards the spring.
Storm Ciara – while bringing good drying winds among the rain which allowed seed-beds to dry – denied growers the opportunity to spray off seed-beds pre-drilling. Storm Dennis, however, has topped up these areas again with more rain.
Cereal crops which have sat in water, whether now dry or not, will have suffered root pruning to some extent. These areas are susceptible to damage from graminicides, both sulfonyl urea-based and non-sulfonyl urea. Please keep this in mind when assessing fields for spring herbicide applications.
For established crops, attention to crop nutrition will be more important this year to that in most other years.
Relatively warm, wet soils over the winter have seen soil nitrogen mineralise and leach. This, coupled with later drilling dates, will see autumn drilled cereal crops on the back foot already.
High soil-moisture levels have reduced the plant's initial desire to produce a deep root system, and, as such, these systems will need promoting to allow for nutrient uptake from depth when soils dry out in the spring, as well as giving crops good anchorage to guard against lodging.
Phosphite products will be used to promote rooting, and earlier than usual nitrogen has already been applied in places.
With fields planned for winter crops still undrilled and, in some cases, sitting very wet especially on heavier land, please consider the long-term effects of putting spring crops into less than ideal soil conditions.
Take a spade out and start digging a few holes to determine whether the ground is at field capacity, or whether there are pans and layers of compaction which may be hindering drainage.
If this is the case, rather than planting a spring crop into poor soil conditions, which won't provide much of a return, consider planting a cover crop.
This will help re-structure soils, control grassweeds and leave your soils in a good condition to establish a good first wheat in the autumn.