Wheat School: How fungicides can fight frost

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Growers looking for disease and weed control in winter wheat will often apply a herbicide-fungicide tank mix at the four-leaf stage (T1).

This strategy helps defend the crop against early-season diseases such as powdery mildew and also tackles problem weeds, but there may be other benefits such as protecting the crop from a frosty springtime blast from Mother Nature.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Wheat School, agronomist Peter Johnson travels to the Ontario Cereal Crops Committee (OCCC) trial plots at Palmerston, Ont., where C&M Seeds general manager Ellen Sparry shares an interesting story of frost damage and the role T1 fungicides can play in protecting the crop.

As Sparry explains, when a late frost hit the trial this spring, it damaged unsprayed wheat while plots with the same variety that received a T1 fungicide escaped unharmed.

Johnson says normally he wouldn’t expect this type of frost protection from the fungicide, “but if you sprayed that (fungicide) two days before we got that cold temperature, then we might induce that frost tolerance — we know that that actually can happen.”

In the video, Johnson and Sparry dig into the reasons a fungicide could help the crop elude frost damage, including delaying maturity just enough to escape the cold impact and how fungicides can deliver stress tolerance. See below.

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