Wheat update

Published 25 April 14

While wheat has great potential for yield in 2014, early drilling and the mild winter have increased the risk of diseases. Dr Simon Oxley, HGCA Senior Research and KT Manager, talks about the disease issues facing whole crop wheat this spring.

Field conditions last summer and autumn meant winter wheat crops for harvest in 2014 were drilled in good time in the autumn of 2013. The mild winter also enabled crops to establish well over the winter period. In spring, and with nitrogen applied, we expect crops to get off to a good start now the warmer weather has arrived.

Although crops have great potential to yield well this season, early drilling and the mild winter have caused concern over disease risk.

Yellow rust is one of the major diseases which became established in some crops in the autumn. If left unchecked, on susceptible varieties, it can cause extensive damage to crops causing a large loss in yield. Therefore, it is important to closely monitor all varieties.

Races of the fungus can change, hence the need to monitor resistant varieties as well as the susceptible ones. Where the disease is present, fungicides are essential to prevent serious loss in yield. Once it becomes established, eradication is a challenge. Yellow rust prevention is more straightforward, and early drilled susceptible varieties require a protectant fungicide programme to prevent the disease developing and compromising yields.

Septoria tritici is the main cereal disease to affect yields. Controlling with fungicide has become more challenging compared to 10 years ago, as a consequence of the fungus being less sensitive to popular fungicides. Wet weather spreads the disease spores from symptoms on lower leaves to newly emerging leaves. Disease development is dependent upon temperature and it can develop unseen inside the leaves.  The higher the average temperatures, the faster the disease will develop.

  • Wheat crops have great potential to yield well in 2014
  • Early drilling and a mild winter also increase the threat from disease
  • Monitor now for yellow rust and take action where present
  • Plan an effective fungicide programme to prevent yellow rust and Septoria tritici from attacking crops and affecting your yield.
  • T1 GS31-32 and T2 GS39 fungicide timings are key times to protect crops with fungicide from the major disease threats
  • Information on fungicide timings and choice are available at the HGCA website