Ground conditions: Many growers got back out on land in the past week, despite the wet finish to October.

There have been lots of sprayers out too, as mild conditions resurrect the fear of aphids and BYDV.

Rainfall amounts for November to-date are generally below 10mm, or even half that in most tillage areas.

The exceptions are the west and northwest, where much more rain fell. For most areas, this was less than half the amount that fell in the first week of November in 2020.

Further planting: There may still be a bit more planting where conditions remain good enough. But more seed will be needed as there are increased signs of crow and slug activity.

Conditions are always about the ground beneath the seedbed.

If that is damp or wet, it is likely to tighten, especially under the wheels. This will impede water movement and risk crops loss over winter.

There may still be a little winter barley, malting and feed to be planted, especially in the south. There will also be some winter wheat and oats going in still, as well as winter beans.

You have little choice but to act against crow attack with late planting and the risk is much higher if yours is the only field sown recently.

Winter beans: While this crop does not bring major yield advantage over its spring counterpart, it has proven to be somewhat more consistent in hotter years. However, it also brings additional problems in terms of crows, weeds and disease. Basic husbandry is similar to the spring crop.

It is best suited to heavier soils, but can possibly cope better with medium soils than spring sown crops. Soil pH needs to be >6.5 and preferably much closer to 7. A rotation interval of at least five years with other ascochyta or sclerotinia-prone crops is preferable. Avoid planting close to a bean stubble if possible.

Sowing should ideally take place from mid-November to mid-December – this might be two weeks earlier further north. There are generally fewer problems with later planting. Variety options include Tundra and Wizard, and Vespa looks interesting. Target 15-20 plants/m2 by planting 25-30 seeds/m2. Assume that establishment will be less than 80% and use seed size to fine-tune seed rate (120-160kg/ha for 600g TGW seed at 75% establishment).

Plant at 8-10cm depth to minimise crow damage. This may be best done using strip-till drills to secure that depth. Beans can tolerate rough cloddy seedbeds but not compaction. Very cloddy seedbeds can favour slugs and reduce the effectiveness of residual herbicides.

Aphids: In general, crops that emerge this month should not require aphicide unless the weather remains very mild. Crops close to the coast following dirty stubbles might still be regarded as high BYDV risk.

Crops sown in mid-September might need a second aphicide soon because of the mildness in the weather.