West: Septoria continues to be a major threat

The wet weather continues. Whilst not quite as bad as 2012, the regularity and quantity of rain is enough to allow septoria to continue its relentless march. Although the weather is not quite as bad as in 2012, we started this spring with much higher levels of septoria in the crop compared to 2012, where until mid-April we were in a drought situation.

This has allowed the disease to build up more rapidly, and quickly over run any crop where fungicide timings have either been missed or severely delayed. This is combined with a season where there are shortages of cereal fungicides. This will put us under even more pressure as we may struggle to access first choice materials for the T3 application.

In large parts of the UK the T3 ear spray is all about fusarium control, but in the South West it is always as much about additional septoria control, as well as fusarium control. Our products of choice would contain either prothioconazole or an epoxiconazole/metconazole mix, both of which are now in very short supply.

On the plus side, these shortages were well predicted and most growers have taken a position on an appropriate T3 material. At the time of writing we are about a week away from applying the T3 to most crops. Yellow and brown rust have failed to materialise as a major threat, despite earlier predictions. However, with the quantities of fungicide being applied to control septoria this is perhaps not too surprising.

The spraying of the winter oilseed rape crop is now all done barring the final dessication of the crop. Rarely have I seen the rape crop look so promising as this year and by making that comment I have probably just put the “Kiss of Death” on the crop. Pod set has been exceptional, with barely a missing site in most fields and disease would appear, at the moment, to have been controlled well. We could now do with some sunshine to give us better light intensity and help with grain fill.

The winter barley crop is generally looking very promising this year and at this stage looks like it will yield better than it has done for several years. Straw yields also look promising and this can be a really important part of the overall profitability of the crop in this part of the world.

Spring barleys are a bit variable, ranging from very good to pretty poor. Heavy or poorly drained or compacted fields have suffered with the excessive wet and crops in these situations are looking yellow and stunted. On the other hand, the better crops are looking like lodging will be the biggest risk and are in the process of receiving a fairly comprehensive plant growth regulator (PGR) programme.

I am now looking forward to my trip up to the Cereals event. The drive up is often almost as interesting as the event itself, with many fields telling their own stories without even having to walk into them. This year there seems to be a raft of good new wheat varieties coming through and I look forward with interest to seeing these at Cereals.


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