Cereal growers should apply T0 sprays as soon as possible, as 2006 is likely to be a high disease threat year, according to ProCam.

A relatively mild winter, lush crops resulting from high available soil nitrogen and new races of some diseases mean mildew, septoria and rusts are taking hold, said the firm’s technical director, David Ellerton.

“It’s getting urgent and the available window to make T0 sprays is getting very narrow. The obvious temptation for growers now is to miss the T0 spray, combine it with the T1 later on or just move everything forward, but each one is fraught with problems.”

But results from the company’s 4cast initiative last year found a yield benefit of 3.6t/ha from following a structured four spray schedule with applications made at the right date (T0, T1, T2, T3), compared with a more reactive three spray programme.

The four spray programme gave an average yield of 12.6t/ha and gross margin of £819/ha, compared to 9t/ha and £585/ha under the three spray programme. On average every time a spray was missed from a model four spray programme, there was a 0.3t/ha yield loss, he said.

“You must make that T0 spray as soon as you can, stick to a structured schedule of fungicide applications with no more than four weeks between applications and don’t cut corners thinking you’ll come out on top.

“If you don’t get your spray schedule established now, you’ll need higher doses of triazoles to try and retrieve the situation and could potentially never control the disease threat properly this year.”