West: Septoria continues to be a major concern

Since last writing the weather has been largely unsettled, with enough rain to ensure that the already high levels of septoria in wheat crops has continued to pose a threat.

The top leaves of the crop are clean at present, but this is to be expected as the crops are currently growing faster than the disease can develop to keep up. Most crops had a well-timed T0 application and this has greatly helped the situation, but there have now been weather delays to T1 applications on some farms. Units where no T0 application was applied are showing disturbingly high levels of septoria. Where timings have been good at T0 and T1 final leaf 4 is still septoria free, but if the T0 didn’t go on or was delayed there is already significant infection on leaf 4. This is a major worry, particularly if the weather continues to favour the disease. At this stage of the season in 2012, the septoria was nothing like as bad as it is now and we all know how badly 2012 turned out, so we really could do with a dry week or two.

Despite the concern over septoria the wheat crop in general is looking very well and most crops are now rapidly approaching the T2 timing. Due to the high septoria pressure the timing and choice of fungicide will need careful consideration.

The winter barley crop continues to impress this year with most crops looking really good. If they can stay upright and we get some favourable weather during the grain fill period I anticipate some very high yielding barley crops this year. At the time of writing most crops are in the process of receiving their T2 fungicide application. I had intended using more SDHI chemistry on barley crops this year, but due to potential shortages I will now be sticking with a strobilurin along with a triazole at this timing and save the SDHI for the wheat crops.

The winter rape crop looks pretty good this year but you can never tell with rape. Pod set has been exceptionally good with virtually every flower site producing a viable pod and canopy size is just about right, so hopefully all the building blocks are in place for a good rape yield. At the time of writing most rape crops are getting close to receiving their final sclerotinia spray. Looking back through last year’s recommendations this is nearly a full month in comparison. Hopefully we will therefore have an earlier start to harvest than last year.

The spring barley crop has emerged well and is generally looking good, with the exception of a few crops that have been planted behind a ploughed up long ley. These crops have emerged well, but have lost a lot of colour looking yellowy white, despite having had plenty of nitrogen in the seedbed. There is no obvious cause for this “bleaching” and I can only assume that it is due to the old ley drawing on the nitrogen to commence the breaking down process, which has left the crop short of available N.

Maize drilling has begun in earnest, however it is being continually held up by showery weather, which is making it impossible, in places, to get a dry enough seedbed to get the crop in nicely. With maize more than any other crop the planting operation is probably the single most important operation carried out in the crop, so it is essential for it to go in well.

By the time I write again it will be nearly all over as far as field operations and crop protection is concerned in the winter crops and we will be getting near to the Cereals event. I hope the critical T2 timing goes well for everyone.

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