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Crop Advice & Expertise

5 tips to get the best disease control in wheat this season

It is hard to say what a ‘typical’ season looks like, but this season certainly isn’t it. Exceptionally late drilled winter wheat and horrendous wet weather mean the growth stage of crops will be highly variable, and if conditions remain mild then crops will rapidly move through these growth stages, says Ella Crawford, commercial technical manager for Bayer.

“Overcoming these challenges and ensuring disease control programmes are optimised to get the most out of your chemistry will be one of the main challenges for this season,” she says.

Here are her top 5 ways to achieve the best disease control this spring:

1. Understand the disease life cycle 

Learning about the disease life cycle can help you assess what conditions are conducive to each disease, and so when they are likely to threaten your crop. With that in mind, you can more accurately select the best product and dose for specific scenarios, even before symptoms appear. 

Remember to be vigilant – latency periods vary amongst diseases. Septoria can be silently circulating in the crop for many weeks before symptoms appear, whereas rust symptoms can surface as little as a few days after an infection event. Forecasting and modelling tools can support you in this process but understanding the disease life cycle is vital to interpret their outputs.

2. Act protectantly 

Because of the fungicide chemistry available, acting ahead of potential threats increases your chances of success compared with using curative approaches. 

While you probably know your wheat varieties’ disease susceptibility, you should familiarise yourself with its speed of maturity. To get the timing right, inspect your crops regularly and prioritise those that are faster to develop in the spring – especially after challenging weather affecting growth rates.

For T1, make sure you know how to correctly identify leaf 3, the target at this timing – watch this video to refamiliarise yourself.

3. Use formulations that are rainfast in minutes

Optimised formulations help you get the most out of the chemistry you buy. Leafshield is a formulation technology that maximises rainfastness, meaning once the fungicide is sprayed it will be dry within minutes, as well as properties to aid speed and spread of the actives. 

This formulation is present in several of Bayer’s products, such as Ascra and Aviator, and provides the peace of mind of knowing that even if the weather turns, your investment is protected.

4. Diversify modes of action 

Always consider treating your crop with fungicide mixtures that tackle diseases in different ways, as exposure to different modes of action helps to control resistance against a chemical whilst maintaining its effectiveness.

Ensure you understand how your chosen chemistry works, making sure there is differentiation among your disease control programme. Remember, although the majority of the available fungicide chemistry works most effectively in a protectant scenario, knowing what curative options are available can aid fast knock-down of certain diseases, particularly rusts. 

As well as selecting the right product to tackle the broad-spectrum of diseases that can emerge in wheat, it is also important to ensure your fungicide chemistry has an appropriate balance of active ingredients in the mix. In addition, ensure you apply the recommended rate to aid efficacy as well as managing resistance. 

5. Offer crops enough spray coverage

Wheat is a tall and thin target, so factor that in when setting up your sprayer. As canopy density increases, these targets will benefit from bigger spray droplets that penetrate the canopy better than a fine mist, which has the potential to drift away. Higher spray volumes are best suited for protectant treatments, such as multisite fungicides, which require as much leaf coverage as possible. 

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