Tackle sclerotinia early to avoid OSR yield loss

Article taken from the Farmers Guide

Improved gross margin potential for oilseed rape through better varietal choice and higher crop values has seen rotations tighten and more acres being grown.  But this step change in the way growers now view it as a valuable contributor in cereal rotations has put greater pressure on input management, particularly fungicide strategies.

“The demise of flusilazole – a stalwart for tackling phoma and light spot – has exacerbated the problem and an emerging disease which growers must now taken out early to avoid the potential of significant yield loss is sclerotinia,” say Agrovista agronomist Stuart Millington.  “Oilseed rape growers used to operate a single spray regime but such is the importance of fungicides for maximising yield and quality; this has increased to a two- and even three-spay approach.

“Key to the new spraying regime for sclerotinia control is to start in April at the yellow bud stage with an application of the protectant fungicide Galileo (picoxystrobin).  If there’s time, a second spray using a different mode of action, two to three weeks later in high disease pressure situations with Recital (fluopyram + prothioconazole) should see the crop through to harvest,” he says.

“The longer the flowering period the more critical a two-spray programme becomes.  The first Galileo spray is critical to protect yield and the last spray also helps to minimise sclerotinia returning to the soil.

“With crops benefitting from physiological effects of picoxystrobin even in the absence of disease as well, the cost of the chemical far outweighs the potential loss by letting the disease take hold.  Physiological effects give better pod security and the integrity of the crop is kept for at least a further seven days.”

In high risk sclerotinia situations Mr Millington says growers will really see the benefit of Galileo.

“The challenge with preventative chemistry though is that if you wait to see the disease before apply the fungicide then it will be too late.”

Sclerotinia can cause 60 per cent yield loss if not controlled early in the season.  Mr Millington says it is a disease which is becoming more of a problem each year.

He explains that the fruiting bodies of sclerotinia can stay in the soil for years, and tighter rotations have exacerbated the problem.  There is no curative control option available for sclerotinia so it must be tackled early, he says.

“The effect of the disease is not noticeable straight away and only appears after flowering with white stems and premature senescence, by which time it’s too late and the damage has already been done.” 

 

01 April 2014

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