A welcome drink: The old saying that “a wet and windy May fills the barn with corn and hay” was certainly supported by the rain last weekend. The ground soaked up the nice soft rain and crops perked up immediately.

The rain will inevitably help some diseases, but the balance of the benefit lies with the rain. The same rain should help alleviate much of the trace element deficiencies that looked inevitable a week ago.

April ended up being dryer than average across virtually all tillage areas. It was also fractionally warmer on average, despite many days of chilly temperatures with night frosts. But despite this, winter wheat crops got to and past GS32 (third last leaf emerged) as April moved into May and winter barley got to GS37/41, with patches of crop starting to ear out. Flag leaves are also appearing in some winter wheat crops. Planting of most crops is now virtually complete, with some potatoes remaining.

Winter crops: Winter wheat spraying is largely up-to-date, with T1 sprays well underway and mainly completed. Most winter barley crops have some awns appearing, but others are only at booting stage. A few crops have moved into ear emergence. So, there are very variable growth stages and fungicide timings, making every crop an individual decision.

Winter barley crops that received their first fungicide after mid-April should really get their second and final fungicide early next week if ears are emerging. Crops sprayed in early April may already have received a second stop-gap treatment and if they have not, these really need to be protected now. Perhaps these may begin earing out shortly to enable a slightly early final spray. Target around eight weeks from harvest for the final spray if possible. Kindness in the weather may help alleviate stresses, but do not take any chances with ramularia control or the early timing of folpet.

Where there is still time for a stopgap spray, this may be a reduced rate of a triazole mix or triazole plus strobilurin or SDHI active. Include folpet in both stopgap and final sprays.

Options for final sprays include products like Boogie (1.2l/ha) if mildew is present, Coyote (0.6l/ha), Elatus Era (0.6l/ha), Revystar XL or Fandango (1.0l-1.2l/ha).

Spring crops: Crops vary in growth stage from GS12 to GS24 and are filling out between the rows. Some very early crops are obviously more advanced and they should have no worries regarding BYDV, which has become increasingly evident in winter crops. But later-sown crops fit into the high-risk category, with aphids and BYDV symptoms very evident in winter crops. Therefore, later-sown crops should receive an aphicide at the four to five-leaf stage.

Early crops will shortly need herbicide for broad-leaved weeds, and possibly with a grassweed spray for wild oats or other grasses like canary grass. Broad-leaved weed control should use a mix of actives given the prominence of SU resistance. This can be done with products like Ally Ultra, Galaxy, Kinvara, Pixxaro or Zypar, depending on the weeds present.