West: Difficult decisions on T3 fungicides

The dry conditions persist, and on some soils I fear yield has already been affected.  Even ‘getting the sprayer out the shed’ has not made it rain this season!  It is the stage of the season for ICM (in car management), as when you drive by crops they look OK, but when you walk them many are open and stressed!

If there is to be a positive from the dry conditions it is that disease pressure remains low.  Septoria is confined to the old leaves, mildew is conspicuous by its absence and yellow rust has just not happened.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if fungicide programs are viewed as an insurance, the premiums paid this spring have been too high.

Next up is the decision on T3 fungicides, and the emphasis in recent years has shifted towards fusarium and mycotoxins.  I feel there is a need for further research, as the level and reliability of control of the ‘ear disease complex’ tends to be variable.  The HGCA mycotoxin risk assessment tool highlights this, as weather conditions potentially have a greater influence on risk score than fungicide choice/dose.

It is also important not to lose sight of the role the T3 plays in topping up foliar disease control on the flag leaf.  A responsible decision will be made shortly on the requirement for a T3 fungicide, and if required, product choice and dose.

As soon as ears have been visible monitoring has been ongoing for wheat orange blossom midge.  Whilst there are various methods available for monitoring, ultimately you need to get out there on warm/still evenings and assess midge numbers and whether they are laying eggs on ears. Once the crops start to flower, i.e. anthers are visible, they are no longer at risk from midge.

Winter OSR crops which had a high number of blind pods on the main raceme, do seem to be recovering, with pods being formed on the side branches.  The combine will be the judge of how these crops perform.

Foliar urea applications are being applied to some oilseed rape crops, as field scale trials over the last 3 seasons have shown useful and consistent responses.

Thoughts are already turning to next season (maybe as a means of forgetting this one!) and we are starting to look at rotations and crop planning.  Cultural control of problem grass weeds has never been more important when deciding on cropping, in order to reduce reliance on the ever dwindling number of herbicides.

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