Farmers at AHDB’s Taunton Monitor Farm meeting this month were reminded to use fungicides and varieties wisely, to protect crop health and yields.
Disease pressure, particularly septoria tritici, can be high in the south-west – hitting more aggressively and earlier than other parts of the UK.
Although last year’s dry weather meant the cycle of septoria was broken, ADAS fungicide expert Jonathan Blake is worried about what could happen in a less clement year.
“We are seeing a challenge in fungicide efficacy, but we haven’t had really difficult conditions to test the fungicides.
“The yield response to fungicides – the difference between treated and untreated crops – varies between the years, but also according to variety.
“But we tend to see that yield differences are larger, the further west you go,” Jonathan said.
It’s vital for farmers, wherever they are in the country, to protect the efficacy of the fungicides they use.
But pesticide and fungicide input is just one part of the whole farm’s crop management, as AHDB’s Sean Burns reminded the farmers.
He said: “Use a range of varieties as part of your disease management plan, to spread the risk. And choose a good disease rating on the Recommended Lists as your risk management.”
Monitor Farm host Richard Payne grows winter wheat varieties Graham, Skyfall and Skyscraper.
Philip Dolbear, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “Richard has a good spread of varieties, but should he be growing winter wheat with a higher septoria rating?”
New to the most recent edition of the AHDB Recommended Lists, KWS Extase has the highest ever septoria rating at 8.1.
Richard Churchill, spray operator since 1986 at Manor Farm, Heathfield, said: “This was the best meeting of the Monitor Farm programme so far. It was engaging, informative, practical and made me think about what we are doing.”
Richard gave a final word: “Don’t ignore the resistance guidelines! You’ve got to keep your eyes on what’s happening on your own farm, but also have your ears open to the experts.”
Fungicide Futures is an initiative led by AHDB and FRAG-UK to help put good anti-resistance practice at the heart of fungicide programmes.