We’re certainly needing to be light on our wheat agronomy feet this year. Up to 10in of rain since early April has meant our T1s were spread across a huge range of dates. That is causing us no end of T2 headaches.
Where we were able to get T1s applied by mid-April things are looking fine. Having controlled rusts and protected the crops against early septoria spread with the T0, we’ve been able to keep leaf 3 nice and clean. So we’re building on this with a well-timed protectant focused SDHI/triazole at T2.
Our real concern, though, is wherever we couldn’t get the T1 on early enough, leaving Leaf 3 unprotected for too long. Thankfully, the thick crops we have will rely far less on this leaf for their yield than last year’s decidedly thin stands.
Even so, we’re upping our T2 game to safeguard the top two leaves with an extra triazole boost to the SDHI. This should give sufficient kick-back to tackle any leaf 2 problems while providing the greatest flag leaf protection.
With septoria pressure the highest for a good 10 years and disease levels set to explode once temperatures eventually climb, we may even employ a straight triazole strategy wherever conditions also force us into a later-than-ideal T2.
We’re also having to be very flexible with our PGRs to keep in control of tall, thick, lush crops profiting from plenty of rain and N uptake. Because we went for a split T0/T1 PGR regime, T1 spraying delays haven’t caused us the problems we would otherwise have had. Some crops will still need a late PGR at T2, though. With a GS45-47 cut-off, this will be fine providing the T2 is well-timed. Any delay will be quite a different story.
More than anything else, this season is drumming into us the value of staying as flexible as we can and reacting to fast-changing situations with changing recommendations – day by day, field by field. Good, rapid reaction agronomy will, I have no doubt, be the difference between wheat success and failure. And, with septoria quite capable of halving yields in extreme situations, those who get things wrong could easily do so quite spectacularly.
In contrast, the season really seems to have suited winter barley. Being 10 days earlier than wheat the T1s went on just right and the T2s are now safely applied. Our spring barleys are looking well too, though with 3-4 tillers per plant there’s shaping up to be a big late PGR need.
While recent temperatures look likely to keep sclerotinia in far greater check than feared earlier, the April weather hasn’t done many favours for winter OSR flowering. Robust hybrid varieties are setting pods noticeably better than some conventionals.
There’s quite a lot of leaning out there, so we’re very glad we took the robust PGR approach. Leaning doesn’t necessarily translate in yield losses. But we’re always keen for the easiest, most trouble-free harvesting.