3 April 1998

New fungicides hold out hope for south-west

By John Burns

COULD new fungicides help south-west farmers enter a new league of cereal yields? Profarma agronomist James Stuart thinks they could

Finding out how cereal growers in mid- and west Cornwall can make best use of the recently introduced fungicides azoxystrobins (Amistar), kresoxim-methyl (Ensign, Landmark and Mantra) and cyprodinil (Unix) is the goal of Profarma farm trials in the area.

"Although Unix is the new standard for eyespot control, it also gives good control of rhynchosporium and net blotch in barley and it is quite good on mildew too. So I see possible potential uses for it here in Cornwall, where we get severe disease pressure every year," says Mr Stuart.

"The strobs present us with a particularly interesting challenge because they appear to have more than a straight fungicidal effect on yields, though no one seems to know why. Also they are protectant only, so here in Cornwall with wet, mild winters and disease almost certain to be present, it will be important to select the right fungicide partner to clean up the crop."

A further significant point is that it seems strob doses cannot be reduced, nor the recommended programmes short-cut, says Mr Stuart.

More detailed information on whether the strobilurins can significantly lift potential cereal yields in an area which is not noted for high yields is of fundamental importance, he adds. "If we find we can get on top of the tremendous disease pressure here we may enter a new yield league.

"There are many things to be looked at. With strobs often the biggest yield responses have been from varieties normally considered to be among the less responsive to fungicides.

"As we tend to grow the more disease-resistant varieties down here, because of the disease pressure, we may find that strobs will lift their potential a lot." &#42