The cold start to the growing season may have checked crops, but it has not lessened the threat from wheat diseases, say industry experts.

Indeed, ADAS plant pathologist Bill Clark is predicting it could be the worst year for disease ever.

But growers keen to apply a T0 fungicide to dampen down high levels of inoculum are likely to have been frustrated by this week’s wet and windy weather forecast.

The cold weather during February and March has had very little impact on any of the disease epidemics, says Mr Clark.

“There have been some suggestions the cold weather will have reduced disease risk, but it hasn’t as far as I’m concerned.”

Rust is likely to be a particular issue this season, he suggests.

“There was so much brown and yellow rust inoculum around last year, and it is still about.

You can find yellow rust quite easily on crops, albeit at low levels – the cold weather was not cold enough to kill the inoculum.”

A cool spring would allow yellow rust to take off, while a warmer spring would favour brown rust.

“I can’t see it being anything other than a rust year.”

Similarly, septoria, as ever, is also an issue, he says.

“Against septoria T0s will clearly be worthwhile, and on pretty much every variety.”

To Sprays
  • Cold spell checked crops, but not diease
  • High disease pressure forecast
  • Rust particular threat
  • Poor weather threatens applications

mike.abram@rbi.co.uk