Wheat School: Leaf tips burn as variety, stress and fungicides collide

Many growers apply a T3 fungicide on winter wheat in Ontario to protect the crop against fusarium head blight and get one step closer to achieving high grain yields.

But a strange thing happened on the way to harvest in 2023, as many fields across the province experienced severe leaf tip burn after fungicide application. What happened? Will it impact yield? Do growers need to re-evaluate applying the fusarium fungicide?

For answers, RealAgriculture turned to our resident agronomist Peter Johnson and Joanna Follings, wheat specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. We caught up with the duo at the 2023 Southwest Crop Diagnostic Days at the Ridgetown College campus, University of Guelph.

On this episode of Wheat School, Johnson and Follings track the development of widespread leaf tip necrosis in the wheat crop and explain how a combination of three factors — varietal selection, a dry stressful growing season and T3 fungicide application — collided in a unique set of circumstances to burn the crop. (Story continues after the video.)

As harvest approaches, the two experts note that most wheat fields across the province still maintain high head counts and strong yield potential. Johnson says the crop will likely benefit from a longer grain fill period in 2023, but growers won’t really know the true impact of the loss of photosynthetic area and the burning off of the flag leaf until combines begin to roll.

Overall, Follings is recommending growers stick with fungicides. “If we’ve got fusarium risk again next year, that T3 fungicide is going to absolutely be critical and not something that we should avoid.”

Tap here for more Wheat School videos.



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