Are the days of growing continuous wheat over?

The days of growing continuous wheat in Ireland are over, according to TerraChem’s John Mulhare.

“Effective crop rotation will be a fundamental response to the growing threat of septoria resistance in cereal crops.”

Mulhare was speaking at today’s Teagasc Septoria Conference in Dunboyne Castle, Co. Meath.

“Other steps that must be taken include the introduction of bi-cropping, plus the use of triticale and spring wheat in tillage rotations.

“Bi-cropping involves the growing of two crops in the one field. It has enormous potential here in Ireland.

Plant breeding will also play a role in allowing cereal growers get to grips with the septoria challenge, as will improved agronomy.

“For example, it is imperative that new crops are established in a clean seed bed.”

He continued: “We have become too reliant on chemicals to control plant disease. Nature is always changing. So rather than fight it, we must work with it. And this will become, increasingly, the norm given the slow-down that is coming in the development of new chemistries.”

Mulhare said that future fungicide chemistries will be based on molecules that can stimulate cereal plants’ innate septoria defence mechanisms.

“Registration is now an extremely complex process. This is a direct consequence of the new procedures that have been put in place at EU level. As a result, it is extremely difficult to predict when new fungicide chemistries will be brought to market.”

Mulhare stressed the need for the entire cereals sector to act as one, when it comes to tackling the threat of septoria.

“No other option will work,” he added. “We need a unifying approach across the industry.”

Mulhare said that cereal growers must make best use of the azole-based and SDHI fungicides that are currently available.

“This means applying innovative tank mixes – the specification of which can be changed throughout the growing season.”

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