The dry early part of the season enabled work to be done in a timely fashion and it helped to minimise disease pressure.
Now that we are at the business end of the season in terms of crop protection, rain is increasing disease pressure, forcing delays in fungicide application and resulting in some crops being sprayed late, while others were sprayed early.
This has been a relatively low disease pressure year for cereals so far – the main exception being yellow rust. With conditions in May being a major driver of foliar diseases, we could see plenty disease yet.
There has been some mildew visible in winter-sown oats and this means a potential risk for the spring crop. That does not necessarily mean a problem in spring crops, just a need to be vigilant.
This will be an interesting spring for BYDV. While there will inevitably be some instances, the fact that temperatures never really got above 15°C to drive aphid flight should, in theory, result in very little transmission of the disease, regardless of planting date. It is good that this is one of the years being examined in the new aphid-monitoring towers being tested by Teagasc.
While crops are generally clean, it seems likely that growers will witness the strength of the new septoria molecules as the year goes by. This could yet prove to be a good test of their long-term protectant capability.
Delayed fungicide on winter barley may prove an additional challenge for ramularia control. This crop has suffered many different stresses this year so we must expect ramularia pressure.
The EU report on gene editing and new breeding techniques was submitted to the European Commission at the end of April.
It recommended legislative changes to allow EU companies access to the technologies and it seems to have been well received. There will, of course, still be a need to have controls and regulations in place.