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Making The Most Of Wheat Potential With Well-Planned Spring Crop Protection

News - 17.03.22

Even though another very cold, dry spring is not out of the question, the exceptionally mild winter with well-grown and thick wheats brimming with potential across his patch means Oxfordshire-based Agrii agronomist, Iain Richards is focussing his early spray programme firmly on the high levels of Septoria in the base of most of his crops.

“Any repeat of last April where we had more than 15 consecutive frosts will calm down disease cycling,” he points out. “But it won’t lead to the sort of lower leaf loss we see from decent winter frosts. So, we will still have a big reservoir of Septoria that could easily explode on us.

“This and the experience of those who really struggled to control yellow rust whenever it got away last season is really concentrating our minds as crops pick-up strongly from their first spring nitrogen in the continuing warmth. I can see both diseases being very problematic if we don’t get any cold soon.”

Against this background and with such limited T0 options these days, Iain Richards is planning his 2022 disease management carefully to match the range of varieties his growers have in the ground, from KWS Zyatt most in need of fungicide support at one end of the spectrum to KWS Extase with the greatest disease resilience at the other.

“For those varieties that need it, I’m keen to include a triazole with some curative action early on,” he explains. “It may be relatively old chemistry, but in the absence of epoxiconazole, my first choice here is the bromuconazole/tebuconazole co-formulation we have found especially effective to date – with or without folpet.

“We were very impressed with the results we got from using from the elicitor, Iodus (laminarin) on KWS Extase last season. Registered as a plant defence natural stimulator, it acts systemically to switch on plant defences, sensitising new as well existing growth to respond more rapidly to attack. This makes is especially useful at T0.

“In most cases, we will use this and try a number of other mainly sulphur-based biologicals Agrii research has found particularly promising alongside existing chemistry. But, with the least concerning crops we won’t shy away from employing from Iodus alone given the good job it did for us last year.

“Having said that, we will be choosing where we use the elicitor very carefully. It looks like being a valuable alternative to folpet where the Septoria pressure isn’t excessive. But where the risks are higher and wherever yellow rust is a concern it will definitely be accompanied by triazole chemistry.

“At the same time, knowing how much more dependant most biologicals are on conditions than traditional chemistry, we will be well-prepared to go back in later with additional chemistry should it be needed. In this respect, it’s really good to have the newer, more curative triazoles in our locker.”

As well as a plentiful disease reservoir, thick well-grown crops mean Iain Richards is also prioritising a robust PGR programme for most of his wheats from T0.

Alongside the low temperature-active chlormequat, Adjust he has long used at T0, his more forward wheats will be getting a low rate of trinexapac here as well as at T1. He has found this gives much more consistent results, especially when crops are moving strongly early on.

A split dose programme – with the option of extra PGR at T2 if required – has also proved its value in being less harsh to crops should they come under particular pressure from the climate through the spring.

“With the climate as uncertain as it has become, flexibility will remain the key watchword across our 2022 plant protection programme,” he adds. “That way we will be able to make the very most of the great potential we have in most of our wheats in a way which maximises our return on investment.”

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