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Cereals Disease Force – round two, mid-April

Product Update
Wheat field Syngenta Disease Force

The second round of three on-farm visits saw the Syngenta team join the farmers and their agronomists, as well as an independent expert from NIAB TAG, in hearing how things have moved on since the first visit in March. 

Visit one – Mark Wood, JPF Clay, Herefordshire

Growing four winter wheat varieties across Fawley Court Farm in south Herefordshire, this year Mark has chosen to spray four different mixtures at T1 dependent on the potential of the crop, drilling date and disease levels. 
With wet weather marking the end of March, the west of the country is in a different positon to the east. Crops look well, but for Mark, Septoria is the main concern. Levels are lower than expected due to a dry April and a well-timed T0, but it’s still one to watch.  

Equally, not overlooking the growth stages of crops, and thinking crops are further forward than they actually are, was a key point of discussion during the farm visit, with this being a common mistake growers have made this year.   
T0’s were applied in the first week of April, and have provided a degree of flexibility for T1 sprays, with these planned to start the week commencing 17 April. One of the programmes this year has seen Mark commit to using SDHI chemistry for both T1 and T2 sprays, whereas other varieties under less disease pressure won’t receive an SDHI at T1.   

For Mark, T2 sprays still remain the key application to protect yields, and this year the new generation fungicides are up for debate to be used as part of his T2 programme.    

Visit two - John Haynes, MJ and SC Collins, Essex

Managing 1200ha over three sites can be a logistical challenge for John and his team, but when we visited them, T0’s had been sprayed the first week in April, and T1’s were under way after the Easter weekend.  
With only 98mm of rain recorded since January, conditions are very dry in East Anglia. Andrew Blazey, John’s agronomist, stated that they’ve only had 50% of the average rainfall in the last seven months.  
However, even with the dry conditions, disease is still evident. Mildew has been a problem for John this year, and Septoria remains one to watch out for. Septoria inoculum was clearly visible on leaf tips, leaf 4 and leaf 5, with a high risk of it spreading to upper leaves if conditions change. 

Independent expert, Bill Clark, NIAB TAG, made the clear point that this is not a low disease year as people may think, but an average year where the situation could change very quickly. He highlighted that T1’s still remain a priority application to get right through timing and product choice. 

As thoughts will soon start to turn to T2 sprays, John and Andrew are considering how the new generation SDHI fungicides, including ELATUS™ ERA, will fit into this year’s programme.  

Visit three – Antony Redsell, Brook Farm Partnership, Kent 

At the first visit to Brook Farm back in March, disease levels were very low, and crops looked very clean. Since the last visit, Antony has recorded only 2mm of rain and conditions are very dry. A situation reflective of the county, Syngenta’s area manager Harry Fordham explained. 

Even though disease pressures are relatively low, Antony, and his agronomist James Rimmer, have made no cut backs with T0 and T1 sprays. 

James explains that with T1 they are playing the ‘smart card.’ Timings have altered slightly to make sure the gap between T1 and T2 is no more than three weeks, but rates have not been changed. 

Yellow rust is the ‘watch out’ disease for the team at Brook Farm. Although T0 sprays had done a good job of drying up yellow rust on Cordiale, and T1 sprays had been applied, spores were still visible and potentially active. With the dynamic nature of yellow rust, this is a disease that they can’t afford to let get on top of them.

At this stage, options at T2 remain open for debate. The conditions over the coming weeks will help determine the route Antony and James choose to go down. 

The next round of Disease Force farm visits will take place in the middle of May. Follow #DiseaseForce for the latest.  

Visit the Ultimate Guide for Wheat Diseases here