North: Back on track for a routine fungicide programme

Having been in a near state of panic in early March, with yellow rust and Septoria being in plague like proportions, it’s amazing what a couple of dry and cool weeks can do; stopping disease development in its tracks. I would love to say that it will be easy from now on, but life is not that simple! The good news is we are back on track for a routine spray program, namely starting with the correct timings.

The most forward crops are currently at GS 31 and in 10 or so days will be ready for the T1. The mantra “to SDHI or not SDHI” will be heard around the land. As a sweeping generalisation, most of my recommendations will not feature a new SDHI at T1. A broad spectrum, robust mix will be used as the disease threat is still huge.

Unfortunately, the battle against blackgrass is rapidly becoming a rout as more and more pockets of nuclear proof plants are surviving. Could the new Environmental Focus Areas and Single Farm Payment changes provide us with a means of attacking this huge problem? Last week’s financial analysis in Farmers Weekly shows the potential income loss from the three crop requirement, but is wheat/rape sustainable as a rotation? Overall, wheat’s look well and expectations remain high.

Winter barley crops have now shed their winter yellow and are receiving the final top dressing of Nitrogen. T1 sprays are in the process of being applied and these have had prothioconazole as the core treatment. Issues with supply of this chemistry are just starting to be felt and T2 product choice may require a re-think. Again the crops look to have a lot of promise.

Winter oilseed rape is now bolting and final applications of nitrogen are being applied. The big question for many people is how much do they require? Green leaf area calculations have shown that many crops would require only a fraction of the normal total. Unfortunately, I am not that brave and I have kept all my clients over the 150kg/ha mark. It will be interesting to see if this figure was too low?!

No self respecting pollen beetle or sclerotinia even thought of popping out in the latter part of March as cold temperatures ruled. Warmer days and the full onset of flowering will change that. Fortunately this will mean that the pollen beetle will act as a pollinator rather than a pest. Sclerotinia will again be a difficult disease to predict and with the continuing threat of light leaf spot, product choice will be important. Carbendazim is still in the armoury and will play a role, pairing with either tebuconazole or prothioconazole could be good for first spray.

Spring beans are drilled and winter beans have woken up from the winter. Grass weeds have been targeted and the counting game now starts, seeing how many volunteer rape plants have survived.

Tip of the week:- Check your wheat growth stages!

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