North: Rain could lead to late burst of crop disease


Crop growth has improved significantly as the weather conditions have warmed up from a distinctly cold May month. Nevertheless, growth stages are still about two weeks later than where they would normally be.

The cool conditions throughout this spring growing season have meant that in general foliar disease levels have remained low, although there have been reports of yellow rust infections coming in to untreated plots on some variety trial sites. This should be interesting for those tracking varietal resistance in their quest for integrated pest management. Patches of moisture stress have been noted, but this has been alleviated by some recent rain. This may lead to a late burst of disease in some crops.

Winter oilseed rape crops seem to have flowered for weeks. My concern over this is that too much of the not too prevalent radiant energy will have been reflected away from the crop, resulting in reduced yields. As ever, time will tell. Most crops are now past the stage for any further treatment apart from a late application of foliar nitrogen to boost yield.

The gate is now shut on winter barley fields. Hopefully, the final fungicide application will keep ramularia at bay. As with oilseed rape, thoughts will be turning to variety selection for next year. The flurry of upcoming trials and open days will provide plenty of discussion.

The broken weather forecast for the next wee while will prove to be a challenge when timing the final spray on winter wheat. Getting the application of fungicide as close as possible to the infection of ear diseases (fusarium and microdochium) will probably be more luck than judgement. Aim for early flowering with a robust rate of triazole plus chlorothalonil for septoria control. Remember to use the mycotoxin risk assessment table to comply with grain passport rules.

The changeable weather may result in an upsurge of disease in previously clean crops of spring barley. A spray at this time is almost always cost effective so plan ahead with particular reference to ramularia. Prothioconazole mixes plus chlorothalonil will do a good job. However, in crops with high yield potential the use of an SDHI product is worthy of consideration.

The earliest sown potatoes have taken anything up to eight weeks to emerge. In fact, many crops sown a month later into warmer soils are romping past their earlier sown cousins. Irrigation has started for scab control and blight control strategies are planned and, in some cases, have commenced. Aphids could soon raise their heads if the temperatures continue to rise.

Having had to miss out on the Cereals Event for the first time in decades due to BPS application commitments, I am looking forward with more anticipation than usual to the round of trials visits and open days over the next couple of weeks. As always there will be plenty to chew over both past, present and future.


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