Tough calls to be made on winter wheat fungicide
The prescription for all crops for the last few months has been heat, moisture and sunlight. These elements finally arrived in a triumvirate over the last week or so, and crops are lapping up these conditions and in general look very well.
The gates are closed on winter barle. It needs to be left to its own devices from now on to soak up the good conditions. Spring crops in general look very well, with thick lush crops, low disease levels and good yield potential being the norm.
The most important issue with these crops, especially where they were sown in a normal winter cereal slot, is whether they will 'die in debt', or will the yield and price cover the cost of production.
The final fungicide on winter wheat is imminent and tough decisions remain to be made.
There have often been question marks over the justification for a final fungicide for septoria control, especially after a disease-free season (to date) and the lower yield potential that current crops have.
Given the general lack of response of fusarium complexes to fungicides, it's hard to justify the spend on that basis either. However, the flag-leaf fungicide application is applied for two to four weeks at this stage and there is another seven weeks of expected growth.
Given the voracity with which septoria can invade a crop, no fungicide programme will last for 12 weeks, and the past few years have shown that late-season septoria attacks can have huge yield and quality effects on crops.
Also, while fungicides can have less than comprehensive fusarium control, they do affect the fusarium complex and any control is better than none.