Winter wheat overview

Favourable autumn drilling conditions and a mild winter to date has meant that winter wheat crops across the length and breadth of the UK are forward; here BASF agronomy managers give a round up on winter wheat crops in their area.

In Norfolk, Hugo Pryce said, “The wheat has come through the winter pretty well, even later drilled crops which went in after roots in November have done well and now have up to 3 tillers. Some of the earlier drilled crops are very forward and lush, so they will need a robust PGR programme to keep them standing up.”

In the south, Andrew Clune echoed this, “Early crops, drilled in September and the first part of October are absolutely storming ahead and are at least at GS23. The later drilled crops, from mid October onwards are not as advanced but it is all looking good.

Over in the West, Robin Rose said, “Here, crops have continued to grow on almost all the way through the winter, fuelled not just by the weather but the fact that there is an awful lot of residual Nitrogen in the soil, from the previous crops. Because of the drought last year a lot of that fertiliser wasn’t taken up, so this is available to the wheat and it is very green. It is much more proud, and the leaf area is much greener than what we had this time last year. Growth stage wise it is not into stem extension yet but its well tillered, anywhere from GS 23 to 27.

In Scotland, Scott Milne painted a similar picture, “What a difference a year makes! This year winter wheat crops are corner to corner, green and well tillered.”

Disease wise, the Agronomy Managers are reporting that yellow rust does not seem to be an issue as yet, with Septoria and mildew the main concerns.

Mr Rose said, “Here in the west, there are significantly higher levels of Septoria and mildew disease in crops, compared to this time last year. We have had a few sharp frosts but they have not affected the mildew.”

However in the south, Mr Clune said, “Disease levels are not heavier than usual, there is nothing there that is not where I’d expect it to be. The T0 spray, applied as leaf four emerges, should provide a strong foundation to the Septoria control programme; protecting new growth and clearing up disease in the bottom of the crop. If there is adverse weather at T1 timing then the T0 buys a little bit of insurance.

I base the T0 around chlorothalonil, at 1 l/ha which acts as an anti-sporulant against Septoria, slowing down the spread to new growth. This reduces the pressure on the SDHIs that you are coming on with at T1.

If yellow rust is present then pyraclostrobin (Comet 200) at 0.3-0.4 l/ha, is still doing very very well with yellow rust control and it also  brings greening benefits. If there is a heavy mildew infestation or it is a mildew susceptible variety then add a specific mildewicide.”

Mr Milne said, “Many crops are forward and well tillered and the T0 fungicide timing fits well with the plant growth regulator application in winter wheat.  A programme approach gives the best results as it is the most consistent way to help create both the optimum canopy and ear number for yield.

Canopy (prohexadione-calcium + mepiquat chloride) is an excellent choice from GS30 onwards, when growing conditions can be variable, as it is active from just 5oC. Canopy is made up of two components; the prohexadione-calcium gets to work straight away whereas the mepiquat chloride needs slightly warmer temperatures and so having two different actives can lead to persistence.”

Mr Pryce added, “At GS30 Canopy helps balance and strengthens the tillers, creating a more even crop and uniform leaf emergence which helps accurate fungicide targeting. Canopy also thickens and strengthens the 1st internode as it develops and increases the root spread and depth, giving better anchorage and water and nutrient uptake as well.”

 

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.