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    Blotch on the Landscape, Winter Barley Growers Warned
22/01/09

Watch out for high disease levels appearing in crops of winter barley, arable farmers are being warned.

Be vigilant to stop early winter barley infections getting out of hand, says Simon Phillips.

Simon Phillips

According to Simon Phillips, cereal product development manager for Syngenta Seeds, high levels of net blotch appear to be present in early-drilled winter barley crops around the country, with some also succumbing to patches of mildew.

So with the need to maximise crop output to protect margins, he says it’s important that growers remain vigilant to stop infections getting out of hand.

“The problem has probably been exacerbated by wet weather in November and December,” says Mr Phillips. “Left untreated, net blotch can cause yield losses of 30-40%, plus it can cause reductions in grain quality.

“Probably the main crops which will need looking after will be early-sown malting crops, but check feed crops too. It’s worth protecting the high output of hybrids,” he adds.

Syngenta Crop Protection technical manager, Iain Hamilton, agrees with the need to prevent net blotch getting out of hand. “Keeping it out early is what it’s all about,” says Mr Hamilton. “So monitor the situation and be prepared to spray with an early fungicide if necessary. A mix of Kayak with prothioconazole would be ideal for net blotch,” he says.

“Keeping disease out before it escalates is especially important in barley because lower leaves can contribute even more to yield than they do in wheat, and because diseases such as net blotch and Rhynchosporium can be difficult to eradicate once established. There are also concerns about sensitivity shifts in both diseases to some triazole fungicide chemistry.

“Including the alternative fungicide mode of action of Kayak with a triazole aids resistance management. Also, a Kayak plus triazole mixture has given extra yield over a strobilurin plus triazole mix.

“Kayak also offers protection against eyespot, which is often overlooked in barley, and against mildew – though if mildew is already established or it’s a high risk then a morpholine fungicide, such as Tern, may be required.”

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