There were some moves to fields over the weekend gone by. Where rain held off for parts of days, some were able to spread fertiliser and spray winter crops that are badly in need of attention.

For some, weather conditions did not come and for others, the ground is still not fit for travel at all for winter crops. There has been more rain this week, and more showery weather is forecast, but hopefully rain will ease soon.

Winter cereals

Some farmers do not have any fertiliser on winter cereal crops. This should be a priority once you can travel. Most crops are thin this year, so would benefit from a growth regulator before GS30 to help tillers.

Others are heading for the main split of nitrogen, while in some early ground, the main split has been applied and crops may even be heading for a T1 disease spray.

Herbicide will need to be applied to any winter cereals that did not receive an autumn herbicide as soon as possible. The crop will cover the weeds soon.

Grass weed control options are now limited in winter barley, but there are plenty of options to control grass weeds in wheat with Allister Flex, Pacifica Plus and for sterile brome you can look at Broadway Star.

You should add a sulphonyl urea to Pacifica Plus and apply with Biopower in wheat.

To control broad leaved weeds in barley you are looking at a sulphonyl urea like Harmony, Ally etc along with a product like Galaxy or Zypar.

Wild oats could be controlled at this time as well, but be careful of adding stress to crops with tank mixes.

Oilseed rape

Try and apply the main split of nitrogen to crops if it has not been done already. This will vary depending on the green area index score taken.

Crop diversification

The two and three-crop rule is no longer in place for 2024. We published this in the news pages last week, but the news came too late for this column.

In case you missed it, farmers are no longer required to grow two or three crops on their land, depending on their farm size. The minister outlined the bad weather as the main reason for the move.

He commented that tillage farmers should remember that they still have to adhere to crop rotation requirements. The same crop cannot be grown on the same parcel for four years.

So, a farmer can plant winter barley for three years, but must have a different crop in year four. If you have 10-50ha of crops and 50% of the area is in barley, then you do not have to comply with this rule.


There is still wet weather in the forecast and possibly even some icy showers next week. If drier weather does come, be prepared with seed and rates. Beans will be the priority. The target plant count should be 40 plants/m² as time moves on.

Seed rate is determined by multiplying the target plant population by the thousand grain weight of the seed (this should be printed on the seed bag) and dividing by the estimated establishment percentage.