Lodging risk is higher this year for winter cereal crops

This year’s wheat crops face increased lodging, warns Peter Berry from ADAS.

Winter cereals are facing significant lodging pressure this season thanks to good crop establishment and a mild winter, experts warn.

“If anything, risks are a bit worse than last year because farmers established crops earlier,” says ADAS senior research consultant, Peter Berry. Farmers have historically perceived lodging as stem lodging, he says.

But often it is root lodging, as some crops may have limited space for root spread and anchorage within high plant populations.

On average, lodged patches cut yield by 25% and milling wheat Hagbergs can drop by 20 to 30 seconds a day, he suggests. This could result in a total cost of £300/ha (see table), so it is vital to manage the risk early on.

For root lodging, this includes applying growth regulators, reducing nitrogen dose to rein back crop growth and rolling crops before growth stage 30 to consolidate soils, Dr Berry advises.

Applying PGRs and delaying nitrogen applications are the main ways of reducing stem lodging risk, he says. “The effects of PGRs are additive. If you have two PGRs they could improve lodging resistance by as much as three points. Moddus and chlormequat is a good mix.”

In Syngenta trials, the addition of Moddus (trinexapac-ethyl) increased yield by almost 1t/ha when nitrogen dose was raised from 200 to 240kg/ha, compared with a drop of 1.3t/ha when no PGR was applied, adds the firm’s Jason Tatnell.

“With this year’s higher grain prices, growers could understandably be tempted to increase fertiliser dose to boost yield and extract more value from their cereals. In these circumstances proven lodging management becomes even more crucial.”

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