With take-all being widely referred to as one of the biggest problems for arable growers, Jonathan Blake, ADAS Principle Research Scientist, explains how this season, growers have reported take-all affecting first wheats as well as seconds.
“The mild autumn experienced last year, followed by dry and hot conditions in the late spring and early summer, has greatly contributed to the amount of take-all seen in first wheat crops.
“In light of the high-risk year, growers need to look forward to next season in order to put in place a strategic plan. This may incorporate both cultural and chemical controls, to protect next year’s crops,” says Mr Blake.
“Ahead of next season, growers need to consider every tool in the box in order to reduce the risk of take-all. Avoiding growing a second wheat on light soils, and choosing an earlier harvesting wheat variety, are all decisions that can help to reduce the risk,” explains Mr Blake.
“However, this does not always go to plan. An early application of nitrogen is widely accepted as a way to offset the effects of take-all. This season, the dry conditions experienced in spring has resulted in the slow uptake of the nutrient.
“This has meant crops have been unable to make use of its benefits, which would usually help to establish robust rooting systems, allowing them to grow away from the pathogen.”
Mr Blake also explains that growers might not be aware that oats can be used as a break crop to help reduce the potential impact of take-all.
“Although oats can be affected by take-all, the pathogen is different to that which affects wheat.
“It’s important to note, however, that growers must be on top of controlling volunteers in these crops, as these and certain grass weeds can act as hosts to the wheat-affecting take-all pathogen and carry this over into the next rotation, causing higher take-all effects in first wheats.
“In light of the recent high-risk year, the amount of take-all inoculum next season is likely to be high, and therefore it’s likely those sowing second wheats will see a yield benefit from including a take-all active seed treatment,” says Mr Blake.
“A targeted specialist take-all seed treatment, is an insurance policy against the effects of the disease. As we’re seeing more and more incidences of take-all in first wheats, this approach has never been more important,” explains Certis’ Technical Manager, Adrian Sisson.
“Seed treatments create a zone of protection around the developing root systems by disrupting the fungal activity of the take-all inoculum.
“This does not cure take-all, but slows down its development, helping the plant to grow away from the disease, offering growers flexibility around sowing dates,” he adds.
“As the economic factors of take-all are at the forefront of most grower’s minds, it’s important that growers are aware of the return on investment that seed treatments can offer.”
For example, he explains that in a medium risk situation at a seed rate of 125 kg/ha the yield needed to cover the cost of Latitude (silthiofam) is 0.18 t/ha, based on a feed wheat price of £136/t. As the average yield response from this seed treatment is 0.55 t/ha, this means the initial cost can be recovered from the potential yield gain.
“Therefore, using a targeted seed treatment even in a first wheat, is a shrewd option to not only insure your crops against take-all effects but to create a yield response which can help your bottom line.
“As take-all will never be eradicated, we can only manage and mitigate its effects in order to reduce the risks. Therefore, it’s important for growers to take a proactive approach to their cultural and chemical control methods, ahead of autumn drilling, to ensure that crops and yields are protected from day one,” says Mr Sisson.