Weather: We had a great spring day on Monday, and it felt like there was some drying. There looks to be some drier weather in the forecast, but still plenty of showers moving around. A small number of you were able to take advantage of the drier weather, but many are still waiting to be able to move into fields. Try and have all seed collected so you do not have to do this job when the weather does pick up. Fertiliser for winter crops will be needed shortly.

Three-crop rule: We have no word back on a derogation from crop diversification requirements. Hopefully some flexibility will come for badly affected farmers. Until there is a change, farmers will need to continue to try and source seed. Word is needed immediately on this. Many have sown crops which did not establish while trying to meet requirements.

Fertiliser: Winter cereal crops have shot up in the last week and, as soon as conditions allow, will benefit from phosphorus and potassium, along with a small bit of nitrogen. If you are one of the many farmers with no fertiliser in stock, order soon to be able to apply fertiliser once the opportunity presents itself.

Plant counts: If you haven’t done a plant count on poorer crops then try and get out in the wet weather to decide if you will reduce inputs or not. Two-row winter barley with a plant count of 150-250/m2 should have reduced inputs. Wheat with 90-200 plants/m2 should have reduced inputs.

Oilseed rape: Oilseed rape will need nitrogen soon. In order to decide what nitrogen will be applied you should assess your oilseed rape crops for the green area index either by eye or using an app on your phone. Assessing the green area index (GAI) can improve nitrogen use efficiency and help to reduce nitrogen fertiliser rates. Ask your agronomists for help on this or look up pictures online. A GAI of 1 looks like there is just over 50% green leaf or ground coverage.

Teagasc advises that crops with a GAI of 2 do not need any nitrogen until the middle of March. Crops with a GAI of less than 1 need 70kg of nitrogen/ha in February if you can travel and conditions suit. Crops with a GAI over 1 will need 40-50kg/ha in early March.

Light leaf spot: Light leaf spot needs to be controlled early and prevented. To check if light leaf spot is present you should take some leaf samples, place them in a plastic bag and put them in a warm place for a day or two. Check if white lesions appear on the leaves. Prothioconazole, metconazole and tebuconazole are the main fungicide options. Prothioconazole has a growth regulator effect.

Payments: Many of you have been in contact about scheme payments. Some were paid at the end of January. We have no clear reason why many of these payments have not been made. Another payment run is expected next month, but it is really unacceptable that payments are not made and there is no indication as to when they will be paid.