Good growth

The recent warm spell was helped drive crop growth and enabled a level of catchup in terms of growth stage and calendar. Crops are moving rapidly through growth stages and overall potential still looks good. But more spring crops are showing signs of pale headlands and patches. These are most likely a result of compaction and structural damage limiting root growth and access to nutrients when the pace of growth sped up.


On balance, the weather would appear to have been reasonably good for flowering in winter barley – nice and slow – so hopefully the big ear sizes can be matched by good grain fill and that will translate into yield. At this point I tend to believe that sunny cooler weather is best for both grain fill and ear blight prevention in barley. A nice even pace might also be best to minimise crop stress and ramularia infection.

Some winter oat and wheat crops are now fully eared out also and moving into flowering. Spray oats at earing out with a product like Elatus Era to contain mildew and crown rust.

On wheat, it is best to wait until mid-flowering to apply the T3 to target ear blight, if you have spraying weather that is. Flowering duration is influenced by weather and can happen in about 14 days in warm sunny conditions but more than 21 days in cool cloudy conditions.

This will mean a product like Prosaro or Gleam using at least 80% of recommended rate. Rate is critical for activity against ear blight. Watch for the presence of active rust diseases at the time of spraying.

Spring crops

Barley crops range from second node to awns peeping depending on location and sowing date. Final fungicides should be applied when the awns are actively emerging but before the ears are visible.

Rhyncho has become more evident in barley crops but generally still at low levels. Final fungicide options include Bontima, Ceriax, Elatus Era, Fandango, Revystar and Siltra etc or a mix of prothioconazole plus a straight SDHI or strobilurin. All heading treatments should include folpet for ramularia control.

Wheat and oat crops vary between second node and flag leaf emergence. Both might receive a fungicide once the flag leaves are emerged, depending on disease pressure. It is important to prevent the development of any diseases that might be present, especially mildew and rusts.


While crops are mainly standing, they become hugely attractive to crows at the watery/milky ripe stage, especially if the weather is dry and if there was little in the way of silage happening locally. At this stage they show signs of turning.

Act to keep crows out because it is much more difficult to get them to leave while the grain remains attractive. Erect deterrents at high-risk locations like crop edges, lodged patches, beside wire fences, under electric cables etc.