Most winter wheat crops around the country are reportedly looking well at the present time – a consequence of the mild autumn.

Field work-related activities will start to gather pace over the coming weeks.

Growers should complete the main nitrogen (N) application before Growth Stage (GS) 32, according to Teagasc.

This generally equates to half the total amount of N for the crop if a three-split programme is being used and is typically in the range of 100-125kg/ha (80-100 units/ac).

However, this may well be slightly lower this year and will depend on the breakeven ratio (BER).

Apply the final split at flag leaf. Where a two-split programme is used, the application at GS32 should bring the crop up to its final amount.

Plant protection for winter wheat crops

A plant growth regulator (PGR) should be applied by the first node (GS31). The temptation may be to cut corners with plant protection products this year.

But growers should bear in mind that crops have grown well over the winter and may have higher lodging pressure as a result.

Options include: Chlormequat chloride (CCC) 75% at 2.0L/ha plus or minus an adjuvant; K2 at 1.8L/ha; and, CCC 1.0L/ha plus Moddus at 0.2L/ha or Meddax Max at 0.2kg/ha. Temperatures need to be above 8°C for best effect.

Where disease is concerned, Teagasc is confirming very low levels of yellow rust in the country. This may well rule out the need for a leaf 4 (T0) fungicide application.

Trials have shown little or no yield response to the T0, so this is an area where savings can be achieved, especially in first wheats.

For those who are still growing Bennington or JB Diego, growers should monitor crops closely. If yellow rust appears, then treatment will be needed. Options include an azole (e.g., Fezan) plus a strobilurin (e.g., Comet).

However, farmers should be aware that using an azole at this time will affect the efficacy of some of the azole fungicides used later to control septoria.

A T1 spray should be applied when the third last leaf is fully emerged. Growth stage may not be an accurate indicator of the actual leaves present in the crop, so dissecting plants and identifying the correct leaf to apply the first fungicide is critical for optimum septoria control.

In other years, where there has been good growth over the winter, wheat plants have actually produce an extra leaf. So growers should make make sure that they target the correct leaf before application of a fungicide.

They should include the multisite Folpet at 1.5L/ha plus 80-100% of an SDHI/Qii mix. Options here included: Questar, Revystar XL, Adexar, Elatus Era and Ascra Xpro.