Wheat School: Hitting fusarium on the head for optimum control

Fungicide formulation, timing and application. Get all those right and chances are you’ll have effective suppression of fusarium head blight (FHB) in your winter wheat crop.

Syngenta Canada formulations and applications manager Doug Baumann notes that these three components of control all have to work together for growers to achieve optimum FHB control. On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Wheat School, Baumann explains that 60 per cent of fungicide efficacy is dependent on the product formulation, while timing accounts for 25 per cent of success, and application 15 per cent.

Any competitive fungicide has to have the right active ingredients. “That’s table stakes,” says Baumann. A long shelf life is critical, as is convenience and the functionality of the product. “When application time comes, a lot of acres need to be covered so easy handling, pumping and cleanup are all attributes of a really good formulation.”

When it comes to timing, newer fungicides continue to expand the application window. Instead of the traditional 61 to 63 window on the BBCH (Biologische Bundesanstalt, Bundessortenamt and Chemical industry) scale, applications can be made from stage 57 to 65. Baumann notes that wheat fungicides like Syngenta’s Miravis Ace have certainly stretched the application window — it can be sprayed as early as 50 per cent head emergence up until 50 per cent of the heads on the main stems are in flower. (Story continues after the video.)

Application may only account for 15 per cent of fungicide success, but this is where growers and applicators have to earn their spurs by effectively painting the 24 wheat heads found in each square foot of their wheat crop. For Baumann, application starts with water volume and droplet size. He says 15 gallons per acre is a bare minimum and recommends growers push it to 20 gallons whenever possible to get good coverage.

Baumann notes that the industry has moved toward a coarser droplet because it has a greater ability to penetrate the wheat head. It can also maintain more momentum, allowing the droplet to better sustain its spray angle and more efficiently target the back and front of the wheat head.

In the video, Baumann also discusses the need for the right nozzle and why two angles of attack are required to get good coverage. Boom height and travelling speed of the sprayer are also critical for application success. “A little bit slower and a little bit lower,” he stresses.

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