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Getting the most from your wheat crop means making smart decisions throughout the season to get the best control of threats to your yield from diseases, weeds and pests.

Posted 2 years ago


What's happening in wheat in September

It has been a protracted harvest this year, and some crops will still be standing well into September. This over-running of combining operations will have a knock-on effect on autumn cultivations, with less time available for stale seedbeds prior to drilling.

Where crops are drilled in September, growers should be aware that the crop will face increased agronomic challenges, including more grass-weeds, and higher Septoria risk in the spring from greater exposure to the fungus in the autumn.

Being patient will certainly pay dividends in terms of weed control, but it is important to identify weed species present before starting cultivations.

‘Brome’ covers a number of different species which require different management techniques. The seeds of soft, rye and meadow brome may not be fully ripe after combining. They need a period of time of the soil surface before they can be encouraged to chit. Great and sterile brome, conversely, should be encouraged to chit as soon as possible after combining to prevent seed dormancy. Once you have identified the brome species present, use the appropriate approach to stale seedbeds.

Rye-grass is a growing challenge across some cereal-growing areas of the UK, including the South East and parts of East Anglia. However, black-grass is still the predominant grass-weed threat. Light cultivations one or twice before drilling, followed by a glyphosate spray, will remove a significant amount of black-grass and rye-grass during the main germination period, before drilling.

Drilling from mid-October, once the peak of black-grass germination has passed, is still optimal from a weed-control point of view, but for those looking to drill in September a robust herbicide programme is recommended.

Proclus and Liberator contain three active ingredients from different herbicide mode of action groups, which target different parts of the weed plant. Excellent results were seen last year and this combination provides the best start to a full programme.

Proclus should be used as a true pre-emergence, applied within 48 hours of drilling to a firm, level seedbed, to achieve optimum results. However, all pre-emergence herbicides will benefit from being applied as soon as possible after drilling, since after 48 hours black-grass may have chitted and residual activity will begin to decline.

Where rye-grass is a particular problem, growers have seen excellent results by starting their programme with Proclus and Liberator and a mixing partner, of either triallate or prosulfocarb.

Fields with the highest threat of grass-weed problems should be prioritised for pre-emergence applications. Try to ‘spray as you go’ rather than wait to get every field drilled before you start spraying.


Priorities now:


  • Identify brome species and cultivate according to species-control methods
  • Get stale seedbeds underway for black-grass and rye-grass control as soon as possible
  • Identify and prioritise high-threat fields for prompt pre-emergence sprays after drilling


What's happening in wheat in July

This is a testing time for crops as we head towards harvest. This season’s weather has resulted in a perfect storm for disease and may leave some growers with questions about whether they employed the best approach to disease control.

T1s on the whole were applied later than normal this year and the expectation was that T2s would follow quickly behind. However, with cooler than average temperatures most T2s were stretched beyond the optimal three-week period in many cases. And while T3s have been applied, we are now seeing very high levels of Septoria.

Some growers are considering an additional fungicide as a top-up, but it is a race against time since GS71 (watery ripe stage) is the latest time of application for most products.

As crops mature during July there is still time to do some tidying up to reduce weed seed return and support improved future weed control. Wild oats have been a particular problem this year, so hand-rogue small stands of plants, along with any black-grass and brome species present can pay dividends in the long term.

If there are larger patches of grass-weeds still present, consider spraying these off. However, this must be done very soon, since weed seed will shortly become viable.

In milling wheat crops, a final top dressing of nitrogen can be applied between the end of flowering and the milky-ripe stage, to ensure optimal protein levels.

As part of pre-harvest preparation growers can take advantage of a free trial of Climate FieldView, Bayer’s digital platform that provides real-time data, captured by the combine and allows growers to analyse yield by field and crop, instantaneously. These results can help to support decisions on future operations, including rotations, seed rates, fertiliser rates and crop protection applications.

Looking ahead to post-harvest operations, growers can start planning their work-loads and particularly, stale seedbed operations for grass-weed control.

Priorities now:

  • Review disease levels in crops and assess the need for top-up fungicide before GS71
  • Hand-rogue or spray-off remaining grass-weeds
  • Apply final top dressing to milling wheat


What's happening in wheat in June

The predominantly cool and dry weather in April, with low overnight temperatures, has tempered crop development, and wheat plants have moved slowly through their growth stages. In many areas crops are beginning to look stressed from lack of water.

The unsettled weather in May means that many crops were still waiting for their T2 spray at the end of the month. They will be required in early June, as soon as possible or once crops reach GS39.

In many cases the time between T1 and T2 sprays has been extended beyond the recommended three to four weeks, however despite the wet weather, the relatively cool conditions to the end of May have held back disease pressure, with Septoria being kept below leaf 3 at the end of the month. This means that T2s will likely to be going on in a protectant scenario, where fungicides are most effective.

Temperatures are expected to return to normal in June which will increase Septoria pressure, and there are also reports of Yellow Rust coming back into crops, after disappearing during the cooler weather in April. However, Brown Rust is yet to feature.

Check Bayer’s National Snapshot Project, to see reports on Septoria and Yellow Rust incidence on farms across the UK using our new Rapid Disease Detection technology.

For all-round disease control at T2, 1 - 1.5 L/ha of Ascra will be effective against Septoria, Yellow Rust, Eye spot, and reduce Fusarium head blight, and other key diseases.

Looking ahead to T3 fungicides, which will likely be made towards the middle of June, your choice of fungicide will depend on what you want to achieve with your wheat crop.

To protect wheat quality, targeting Fusarium will be key and this means getting the timing right. . Wet conditions at flowering will increase the risk of Fusarium infection therefore apply your T3 at the first sign of anthers emerging from the middle of the ear. Proline gives the strongest protection against Fusarium and the microdochium species, while also giving a good top-up of protection against Septoria. If Brown Rust is a concern, the addition of tebuconazole or a strobilurin will provide added protection, provided two strobilurins have not already been used in previous applications.

To prolong the crop and boost yield potential, Aviator 235Xpro can provide protection against Fusarium and leaf diseases in one product, provided two SHDIs have not already been used in previous applications. Aviator offers additional benefits including crop greening which will be a significant benefit if drought becomes a problem.

Other tasks for June include final weed control, which at this stage will involve hand-rouging, spot-spraying or spraying-off larger areas where grass-weeds have not been controlled.

Growers should also monitor orange blossom midge around flowering. Use sticky traps or pheromone traps in susceptible crops, especially varieties without resistance. In milling wheat, the threshold for an insecticide spray is one midge per six ears, while in feed wheat the threshold is one midge per three ears.


Priorities now:

  • Apply T2s fungicides as soon as crops reach GS39
  • Apply T3 sprays according to growth stage and crop priority
  • Monitor for orange blossom midge around flowering and treat if threshold is met



What's happening in wheat in May

The predominantly cool and dry weather in April, with low overnight temperatures, has tempered crop development, and wheat plants have moved slowly through their growth stages. In many areas crops are beginning to look stressed from lack of water.

This slow growth has also delayed T1 applications, which are around seven to 14 days later than usual, and means that this year we are likely to see both T1 and T2 applications applied during May.

When rain arrives, disease risk may increase suddenly, as stressed crops grow away quickly, so growers should keep monitoring. Any Nitrogen that was applied to dry ground will now be taken up and this provides an opportunity to make any final crop nutrition applications, including trace elements as required.

Crops that were backwards in April may bounce back quickly after rainfall and with warmer weather during May, rapid growth spurts are likely. This increases the potential for lodging, so appropriate plant growth regulators (PGRs) should be applied at the right time. Growers may need to apply PGRs as a standalone application if timings do not coincide with fungicides.

Looking forward to T2 (flag leaf fully-emerged) applications later in the month, the risk of Septoria and mildew may rise depending on the weather, and especially if the interval between T1 and T2 applications is stretched beyond three weeks, or a less robust fungicide was applied at T1.

With wheat prices remaining high (as at the end of April) and crops showing good potential, there is a good incentive to provide robust protection to the flag leaf as the main driver of yield.

Some diseases such as Septoria have a long latent period, and may not be visible on the leaf even though it is present in the plant. Knowing whether disease is present or not can establish whether you face a protectant or curative scenario. Updates to Bayer’s National Snapshot Project, which reports on Septoria and Yellow Rust incidence on farms across the UK using our new Rapid Disease Detection technology could give growers some local insight into disease risk.

For all-round disease control, 1 - 1.5 L/ha of Ascra will be effective against Septoria, Yellow Rust, Eye spot, Fusarium head blight, and other key diseases. In lower-risk scenarios, where crops were drilled in November or later, and have good Septoria resistance ratings (7 or higher), 1 - 1.25 L/ha of Aviator 235Xpro is an alternative option.

The Xpro formulation of both Ascra and Aviator offers benefits beyond disease control. It delivers improved drought stress tolerance and increased crop greening, which can help to deliver yield even in a low disease year. In a dry season, these physiological benefits may be even more important to enhancing yield potential.


Priorities now:

  • Apply remaining crop nutrition and PGRs when required
  • Monitor disease levels closely, particularly after rain
  • Protect the flag leaf with a robust fungicide at T2, particularly if longer than 3 weeks since T1


What's happening in wheat in April

It’s been a very typical spring so far, with average rainfall and temperature for this time of year. The result is that crops are looking good with plenty of yield potential.

Disease levels are a mixed bag. Plenty of Septoria is being seen in the base of crops, and while yellow rust disappeared after the cold snap in February, it has re-emerged mainly in the East of England but is also being seen in southern and western areas.

By early April most crops will have received half of their required nitrogen though some areas of the UK have struggled to travel due to wet or very windy conditions. Crops will also either have already received their T0 fungicide along with a PGR, or spraying will be imminent.

As the month progresses, it’s important to address any remaining grass-weed problems with a contact herbicide if none has been applied, before weeds become too large.

Crops will shortly start to grow away quickly, reaching the typical T1 timing at GS31-32 within the month. It is important to assess the crop carefully to ensure at least ¾ of leaf 3 has fully emerged prior to spraying.

While some growers may choose to only target yellow rust at T0, a robust T1 fungicide is highly recommended to protect against Septoria and other key diseases, depending on levels of disease at application time.

Where crops are unprotected from Septoria and we receive typical showery weather in April, they may be at high risk of disease.

To get an idea of Septoria and yellow rust disease progression in your area, take a look at Bayer’s national snapshot project. Our technical managers have partnered with local farmers to track disease in commercial wheat fields across the UK and Ireland using our new Rapid Disease Detection technology.

Varieties with good Septoria resistance ratings (7 or higher) and that were drilled November or later, are likely to under less disease pressure, so growers have the option to flex the rate of Ascra down to 1 L/ha or apply Aviator at 0.8 – 1 L/ha.

Crops that did not receive a protectant fungicide for Septoria at T0 and were drilled in September/October should start with a higher rate of Ascra, between 1 – 1.2 L/ha depending on observed disease levels.

If T1 sprays have to be delayed from optimal timings, growers may face a curative scenario for Septoria. In which case a higher 1.5 L/ha rate of Ascra will help to ensure good control, plus ongoing protection.

In addition to Septoria, Ascra will also target yellow rust and reduce the incidence of eye spot in susceptible crops, while both Aviator and Ascra will play a part in reducing Fusarium head blight within the programme.


Priorities now:

  • Address any remaining grass-weed issues with a contact herbicide
  • Monitor disease levels ac crops reach T1 timing
  • Select T1 fungicides based on crop parameters and disease levels, adjusting rates to suit


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