You are here

Strengthen stems to keep spring crops standing

Agronomy Issues
Spring barley early emergence

Cold nights and dry soil conditions have held spring crops in check so far this season. But when growth resumes, the anticipated rapid shoot to stem extension will leave even less time and energy than normal for plants to develop strong foundations.

That would pose further challenges for crops to develop yield and quality as they have reduced ability to stay standing through to harvest, warned Syngenta technical manager, Georgina Wood.

“Later drilled crops, or crops that have been slow to emerge, are forced through growth stages faster, and as a result tend to have less anchorage, weaker stems and be more prone to lodging, compared to earlier established spring barley,” she advised.

Moddus treatment encourages stem strength

“Moddus PGR treatment tailored to manage plants and the risk of lodging could prove more important this season.”

“Grain quality can be further seriously affected by lodging, with grains spoiled by moulds and bacteria.” Moddus shortens stems and improves stem strength, to help prevent lodging.

Agronomist David Howard, Head of Integrated Crop Management for Hutchinsons, added: “The later that stem extension is delayed by the conditions, the faster the crop will go through its growth stages to compensate. That’s likely to mean greater single stem dominance, and fewer tillers that are crucial for yield,” he warned.

“We need to even out that energy production across all the tillers and strengthen the stem base.”

David Howard of Hutchinsons

"It’s also important to improve the strength at the base of the stem. A focus on managing slower growth from stage 30 to 32 can generate quality plant tissue lower down the stem, and to shorten the internodes,” he added.

Read more of David's spring cereal PGR recommendations for this spring here 

Results of Moddus trials over several seasons have shown that lodging risk can be significantly reduced, with well-timed treatments. One application to spring barley at 0.1 to 0.2 l/ha between GS30 to 32 will strengthen straw early on, advocated Gerogina Wood. A follow up PGR at GS37 would only be required in specifically high-risk situations, she added.

For spring wheat, an earlier Moddus application at GS30 is recommended to encourage tiller survival, along with improving tolerance to Take-all.  That would typically be followed by a second Moddus at GS 30 to 32, in conjunction with chlormequat, for stem strength and lodging control.

Thick crops of spring barley, resulting from higher seed rates or lush growth, have shown the greatest responses in reduction of lodging from the PGR treatment.

“Weather conditions over recent spring seasons have given very different growth patterns, which demands a more flexible approach to PGR programmes,” suggested Georgina.

Standing spring barley field

“In a dry season, as the plant goes through stem extension growth is naturally checked, particularly on lighter soils. PGR rates should be adapted to seasonal conditions and timed when crops are actively growing.”