Monday, June 3, 2013

Just A Minute Frank, There's One More Job To Do

Two farming buddies of mine, Frank and Joe are soon embarking on separate trips with their wives to the British Isles.  Considering these two lads are of Dutch heritage I find it strange that they would choose the home of the blarney stone, haggis and steak and kidney pie as a holiday destination. 

In the meantime there is one job that demands attention before Frank leaves.  Joe has already shipped off and left the job unfinished.
The wheat crop is coming into head and this will be the week to apply fungicide for Fusarium head blight and late season leaf disease control.  Timing is important for head blight, less so for leaf disease.  This picture was taken on Friday.  When 75% of heads are emerged from the boot it is considered to be day zero, which for this field will be Sunday or Monday.  Optimum timing for head blight control is plus day 3-4 meaning this crop should be sprayed between Tuesday and Thursday this week.  The majority of the wheat crop in our area will be in head by the end of the week.  Sprayer operators need to be especially careful with tank and boom clean out since herbicide contaminated solutions are the kiss of death to a wheat head.  All other spray jobs will have to wait until machinery has completed the fungicide applications.
Predicting disease levels is always a crap shoot because our environment can change rapidly in Southern Ontario.  But if there is a year when the wheat may be more vulnerable to blight it could be this year.  Fusarium development is favoured by moisture and moderate temperatures between 15-25 degrees.  So far moisture has been in abundant supply.  It is cold this morning as I write this post, but the forecast is for moderate temps later this week.
Dave Hooker posted this photo of decaying corn stalks loaded with the fruiting bodies of Fusarium head blight.  Lots of disease pressure, a susceptible host and favorable environment is a potential perfect storm.
Showers are also in the forecast for the week and the question of rain fast period for your fungicide of choice is often raised.  Fortunately the rain fast period for fungicides is short.  As long as the head is dry, 5-10 minutes is more than enough time for the chemical to dry and stick to the head.  
I love the colour in our wheat this past week.  It has a rich dark green, almost blue appearance. 
It would be a shame to lose this yield potential to late season diseases.  Frank, before you leave on the quest for some Jameson's or Bushmill's, please spray your wheat!!

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