big wheat worry

30 April 1999

Septoria is the

big wheat worry

By Edward Long

EARLY disease control and over-wintered population checks have been the main issues on Velcourts Vine Farm, Wendy, Herts – host of the national combinable crops event, Cereals 99.

Worrying levels of septoria, a legacy of the mild wet winter, triggered the application of a protectant fungicide at growth stage 31 on the winter wheat.

"With potentially a large innoculum to deal with this has been our number one concern this spring," says Tim Whitehead, manager on the 800ha (1996-acre) farm. "We had to act promptly and apply fungicide to nip it in the bud, before it had a chance to build up to damaging levels."

The farms 320ha (790 acres) of wheat shrugged off the threat of slugs last autumn and survived the winter well. About 20% of the crop was drilled with class 1 and 2 varieties Hereward, Rialto and Charger, the rest with the barn-filling quality feed types Riband, Reaper, Beaver and Equinox.

As expected Charger, which was drilled last in mid-October, did nothing all winter, sitting it out as a 2-3 leaf prostrate plant. "As it was relatively thin and looked in need of a boost we put on 110kg of nitrogen on Mar 10. It responded rapidly and soon started to grow away."

The other wheats also look well, with populations on target to achieve 200 plants/sqm from early September drilling, to provide 550-650 ears/sqm at harvest.

The first 70kg/ha (56 units/acre) dose of nitrogen went on most wheats in early March, a further 80kg (64 units) followed at the end of the month, and a final top-up to take the total to 210-230kg (168-184 units) was applied in mid-April.

With an explosion of mildew in January and February an early morpholine fungicide was needed on the 90ha (222 acres) of Gaelic, Intro, Regina, and Vertige winter barley.

"Frosts in late February knocked the disease, but we used a strobilurin fungicide at GS31 to put the lid on the problem. There has been no further trouble."

With an average of 280 plants/sqm the barley populations are on track and should deliver the 1000 ears/sqm needed at harvest.

The second top dressing, to take the total N to between 160 and 170kg/ha (128-136 units/acre), was applied in early April.

"Our rape also survived the winter well and is not too thick. We will soon be testing petals for sclerotinia and are prepared to apply fungicide is necessary," says Mr Whitehead.

Two-thirds of the farms 65ha (160 acres) of contract-grown marrowfat Bunting peas went in during mid-March, the rest in early April. After autumn ploughing the drill went straight in. A low dose of pre-emergence herbicide was used to sensitise weeds to a follow-up post-emergence spray.

The 50ha (123 acres) of Clipper winter beans were ploughed in at 20 seeds/sqm in November – 12-16 established. The crop was harrowed in the early spring.

In the second half of March 45ha (111 acres) of Mars spring beans were drilled to achieve 45 established plants/sqm. The first sowings started emerging in mid-April.


&#8226 Early mildew control, followed closely by Septoria control.

&#8226 Plant populations good.

&#8226 Peas + beans establishing OK.


&#8226 Early mildew control, followed closely by septoria control.

&#8226 Plant populations good.

&#8226 Peas and beans OK.

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