Septoria ‘perfect storm’ threatens crop yields

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Weather conditions during February and March of 2024 have aided the growth of septoria. Credit: Corteva Agriscience
Weather conditions during February and March of 2024 have aided the growth of septoria. Credit: Corteva Agriscience

Related tags Agriculture

Cereal growers look set to face pressure from crop diseases caused by septoria this year due to the “perfect storm” of weather conditions.

Septoria is a variety of fungi that can cause several diseases on field crops and its development has been aided so far during 2024 thanks to the warmest February on record in England and Wales, followed by a very wet March.

As a result, early indications in the field point towards a high septoria pressure year.

Agriculture firm Corteva Agriscience has advised that cereal growers gain access to the best tools available to combat the fungi or they risk reduced yields.

“The conditions look likely to create a perfect storm,” ​explained Corteva’s cereal fungicide category manager Mike Ashworth.

“Septoria lesions are already being spotted in fields, even on varieties with proven high resistance, such as Extase. It’s been a difficult few months for arable farmers, and the last thing we want is for septoria and rusts to compound what has already been a very tough season.”

Independent AHDB trials have shown over the last three years that Corteva’s Univoq fungicide is the most effective product for the control of septoria in wheat.

In addition to providing curative activity against wheat’s most damaging disease, Univoq is also effective against rusts that are likely to be prevalent in later-drilled crops this year.

To help tackle the season’s challenges, Corteva’s experts advise growers use fungicide chemistry with both protectant and curative qualities.

“Spring fieldwork is mounting and growers are desperately hoping for a window to catch up, so a strategy for 2024 fungicide programmes which reflects the disease pressure seen in the fields will need to be developed imminently,” ​continued Ashworth.

“The best course of action is getting a proven, reliable fungicide in store, so you’re ready to go as soon as the rain stops.”

Corteva’s field technical manager, Craig Chisholm, added: “Univoq has proven its ability to deliver curative and preventative persistence against yield-robbing diseases. In 2021 we had a very wet spring and were facing similar circumstances to what we see in front of us today, and the fungicide did an excellent job in protecting crops during that season.”

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