With the window for T2 applications fast approaching, and weather conditions for the next couple of weeks predicted to be a mixed bag, making the most of each spray day will be key to protect the yield-bearing flag leaf in wheat crops.
When it comes to success at spraying, James Thomas, Syngenta application specialist, explains that maximising product efficacy, minimising drift and optimising timing are the three most important factors to consider.
“The flag leaf contributes to over 50% of yields in winter wheat, and therefore it’s vital that sprays hit the target site to ensure control against key, economically damaging diseases,” says Mr Thomas.
“Conditions are not always going to be optimal for spraying, but it’s making sure you’re ready to go when needed.
“Implementing time saving tips that ensure you can make the most of your spray days, and looking at the possibility of tweaking practices in the field to allow applications in more marginal conditions if required, should be a priority,” he adds.
Application top tips:
1. Water volumes: Water volume has a big influence when increasing application efficiency. By cutting water volume from 200 l/ha to 100 l/ha, which can be done with products such as Syngenta’s SDHI fungicide ELATUSTM ERA, output can be increased by up to 30%
2. Boom height: Increasing the boom height from 50cm to 80cm can treble the effect of drift, therefore keeping boom height down will mitigate drift risk from wind, while ensuring correct coverage, benefiting product efficacy
3. Forward speed: Forward speeds should be no more than 12km per hour to reduce drag and turbulence created behind the sprayer. Keeping to this speed should allow spraying in more marginal conditions, and boom stability also becomes less of an issue ensuring good coverage
4. Product choice: Weather permitting, a well-timed protectant T2 should be every spray operators aim. For every extra day the flag leaf is green, an extra 0.15t/ha yield is gained. So, a product that gives long-lasting disease control and consequent green leaf area protection, such as ELATUSTM ERA, is ideal
5. Nozzle selection: Selecting a drift reducing air induction nozzle, such as Amistar, can provide the best coverage as it has been designed specifically for applying fungicides to cereals while reducing drift
“The flag leaf spray is undoubtedly the most important application to get right. It’s always better to apply slightly early and remain in a preventative disease situation, than go on late and risk being in a curative position.
“The more that can be done in preparation for the narrow spray window due in the next week or so, including keeping an eye on the weather, the more opportunity there is to keep on top of disease, while maximising product efficacy,” says Mr Thomas.