Good week is welcome: Cultivation equipment, drills and sprayers were all busy over the past week.

Rainfall amounts were variable to low in many tillage areas, with the possible exception of the south, west and parts of the midlands.

Growth conditions are good too, with both air and soil temperatures about 2°C above normal for the time of year.

Indeed, soil temperatures are now up 1-2°C on two weeks ago.

This is good for crops being planted now but potentially troublesome for early sown crops in terms of disease risk and especially BYDV risk. See pages 42-43 for information and advice on this topic.

Planting: Winter cereal planting is in full swing, with soil in generally good condition and favourable overhead conditions. As we move into the second half of October, it is likely to be safe to sow all crops and all risk situations. Try to get as much winter grain into suitable rotational slots as possible. Plant winter barley at around 200 kg/ha (13 st/ac) to target 400 seed/m2 and over 320 plants/m2 using 50g seed. If ground conditions remain good, you could get away with 10kg/ha less. Seed size should always be factored into seeding rate because smaller seeds need less weight to sow target seed numbers and bigger seeds need more weight to hit target seed numbers. Adjust seeding rate for ground conditions and likely establishment level.

Plant hybrid barley at 220-225 seeds/m2. This crop is more resilient in poorer establishment conditions so there should be no need to up the seed rate yet. Drill oats at 350-380 seeds/m2 or 125-140 kg/ha (8-9 st/ac) for 35g seed, assuming good establishment conditions. Add 20% to seed rates if crows are likely to be a serious problem. Plant winter wheat around 280-320 seeds/m2 – 140-160 kg/ha (9-10 st/ac) for 50g seed as conditions get a little stickier. Again, up seeding rate by 10-15% where conditions at planting are less favourable.

Post sowing: Roll post sowing if seedbed conditions are good enough. If you expect a problem with slugs or other pests, consider rolling at right angles to the direction of ploughing so that the roller can sink into any hollows to give better tightening to slow pest movement. As things cool down, it is likely that crows and slugs could become bigger problems. This risk is likely to be diluted by the level of current field activity but that will change for late-sown crops.

Slug numbers are high in places so watch emerging crops, especially following rape. Pellets should be applied if you see signs of significant grazing – do not wait for crops to be thinned out to act.

Herbicide: With winter cereals continuing to go in, try to get residual herbicide on to wheat and barley for grassweed and broadleaved weed control. Products will primarily be based around Firebird, Flight and Tower for wheat and barley, with additional actives needed in some fields depending on weed pressures.

Fields with known blackgrass herbicide resistance issues should be sprayed with Avadex Factor.