High eyespot risk threatens yields

Eyespot infection in second and early-sown first wheats could hit yields by 2-3t/ha this harvest, according to Bill Angus from Nickerson.

Wet conditions during May and recent hot, dry weather, which caused crops to “burn off” prematurely, suited the disease, he says.

“I’ve seen it across the south and further north into Yorkshire – it tends to be the lighter soils that will go first.

I think it is going to be a very bad year for second wheats – we could see losses of 2.5-3t/ha.

Behind septoria, eyespot is the second most damaging disease in the UK and while its incidence is often patchy and sporadic from year to year, growers must pay more attention to it when making variety decisions, he urges.

“People don’t realise how important it is. It’s not just second wheats that are at risk – eyespot can hit first wheat as well, especially if the wrong variety has been sown very early.

Choice of variety in specific situations is key.”

If eyespot does get into the crop, susceptibility to take-all later in the season may also be increased, he adds.

In trials (following wheat) at Nickerson’s site near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, Deben, Istabraq and Einstein have all held up well against eyespot, whereas more has been seen in Robigus, he continues.

“Robigus is a very good variety as a first wheat, but it is particularly prone to eyespot in a second wheat situation.”

But while Mr Angus thinks some second wheats could suffer this year, yield and quality prospects for first wheat are
good, providing there has been sufficient moisture to fill the grain and crops are allowed to finish slowly.

Heavier, more moisture retentive soils and those in northern areas could fare particularly well, he suggests.


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