FARMER FOCUS: Right time to drop T0 fungicide

This time of year I am normally scrambling around in yellow oilseed rape trying to retrieve various half obscured pigeon deterrents, spring crops are meeting in the row and wheats have had a growth regulator.

This year the pigeon deterrents are still sorely needed, but seemingly useless, spring planted fields are still brown and wheats have only just returned to green from purple.

To cap it all my local pigeons are displaying a very dark sense of humour by roosting above my car and covering it in digested rape and they’ve even been spotted perching on top of a broken pole previously tethering a hawk kite.

With a spraying backlog and continuing unhelpful conditions I am less convinced about the economics of a T0 fungicide on wheat than usual. Even with a long overdue rush of vulnerable growth, if we did go for it I’m sure by the time we got it on leaf three would be only a few days behind we’d be straight back in the crop with T1s.

No doubt this strange year could throw up some variability in leaf emergence, and I do have the dissection kit ready, but I have to say that recently I have moved to concentrating more on three week fungicide intervals based around a seemingly inevitable mid-May flag leaf timing, as this seems to work better in practice. It has absolutely nothing to do with me being rubbish at plant dissection.

Andy Barr farms 630ha on a mixed family farm in mid-Kent, including 430ha mainly of winter wheat, oilseed rape and spring barley. The rest is taken up by an OELS scheme and grazing for 500 Romney ewes and 40 Sussex cattle

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