A new spring barley seed treatment from Bayer for this season, the first to contain a new SDHI fungicide, is claimed to give growers better control of net blotch, loose smut and leaf stripe in what agronomists warn could be a high disease year.

Raxil Star became widely available for winter barley last autumn for UK growers and now it has gained approval just in time for the expected big upswing in spring drilling this season.

The UK spring barley area could be up some 40% this year according to the HGCA, and the threat from disease may be high this season due to carryover contamination after wet weather pushed up disease levels last year.

The new seed dressing is a direct replacement for Raxil Pro and is being offered for the first time on spring barley, with Peter Stacey at Bayer CropScience believing that there could be more than 800,000ha drilled this year.

Senior agronomist at Scottish Agronomy Eric Anderson believes that the launch has come at a good time for spring barley growers as wet weather last May and June led to a rise of 50% in fusarium ear blight which could cause problems with plant establishment.

“There has been lower germination this year in both English and Scottish seed, we don’t know what the soil temperatures are going to be like so getting your seed treatment correct will be important,” he adds.

“When choosing seed treatments, you need to look at diseases such as leaf stripe and the big one, loose smut,” he says, adding that weather conditions have been conducive to loose smut and so it is important to pick a seed treatment that can control this disease.

The new Bayer product contains the new SDHI fungicide fluopyram in a three-way mix with more established products prothioconazole and tebuconazole, with the SDHI component replacing the triazoxide element.

Scott Milne of Bayer CropScience notes the amount of disease that did come in last year has vindicated the high demand seen for the new seed treatment this year.

The low-dose 0.5 litres/t treatment is claimed to give greater than 98% control of covered smut, loose smut and leaf strip, and it also protects crops against fusarium seedling blight, seed borne net blotch, ergot and blue mould.