Wheat School: Heads or tillers — which do I target for maximum fusarium protection?

The 2019 Ontario wheat crop can best be described as a dog’s breakfast…and that’s perhaps being kind.

What’s left in the fields varies from not bad, to not too bad but with dead patches, to relatively uniformly poor and stagey. Depending on the field, the challenges are different. Uniform fields are easy to manage when it comes to fusarium head blight protection. The patchy-but-decent fields are an added challenge, but it may mean you just turn the boom off for some areas.

Where farmers are most challenged is in these fields that look okay from far, but are far from okay. RealAg agronomist Peter Johnson says, “You get looking closer (at these fields) and you realize it’s not great.” The crop hasn’t really canopied and when you pull a few plants you see that the main head is emerging but the tillers — and there are many — could be a week behind in maturity.

A week difference between the most and least mature is a challenge, but Johnson says that if the risk of fusarium is high (like it is now), and you can get a field or fields all sprayed in one day, target day 6 for best control of the main head with enough coverage for those late tillers. (Day 0 is when 75% of the main heads have cleared the boot).

Check out this Wheat School below for examples of how to right-time a fusarium pass:

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