APPLYING chelated copper to crops at risk from ergot could help exclude the troublesome disease, says Warwicks adviser Martin Shaw of CPS Farming.
Using 2 litres/ha (1.4pt/acre) of a 5% product, split between the main fungicide spray in April and the flag leaf spray, has "worked very well", he says.
Oxon farmer David Morrell confirms the techniques success, claiming a five times reduction in ergot in the Amando rye he grows for quality markets, including Ryvita. Crops from his Sandford Common Farm, near Chipping Norton, went into intervention without cleaning for the first time last year, he adds.
The copper seems to work by partially closing the florets of cereal plants at flowering, so reducing the risk of ergot infection. Reducing the copper rate proved less effective, comments Mr Shaw.
Using a Keyfeeds chelate avoids side effects from differential chelation, which can displace other nutrients from crop tissue, adds Stollers Jim Verner. *