Teagasc tillage specialist Shay Phelan is confirming that most winter wheat crops are now between Growth Stage (GS) 31 and 32.

Speaking on the most recent Tillage Edge podcast, Phelan stated: “There is a fair bit of work that needs to be carried out now, where winter wheat crops are concerned.

“Most crops should have received their main split of nitrogen at this stage. As a consequence, 75% of the nitrogen required by crops should be applied now.

“The final split should be applied closer to the flag leaf stage.”

Phelan went on to point out that many growers are currently inquiring about fungicide control, where leaf-three disease levels are concerned.

“It really is a case of dissecting crops at the moment to see where they are at. There are huge variations in different crops.

“In the Athy area, wheat crops are well advanced with the third leaf fully visible on 60% of plants.

“However, at Oak Park in Co. Carlow, the third leaf is hardly visible in most crops.”

According to Phelan, some growers have already applied a leaf-three fungicide.

“There is significant variation in the development of crops up to this point around the country. And it really is a case of farmers getting out there to see what’s actually happening in their fields,” he added.

Wheat crops

Leaf-three emergence is critical in the development of all wheat crops. All fungicide programmes followed at this time of the year with wheat are designed to protect the upper canopy of the crops.

“Over the past number of years, we have seen different challenges arising with regard to the fungicide options that are available.

“Some have been lost while the efficacy of some of the other fungicides on the market has decreased,” he added.

“Most of our disease programmes now are based around the principle of preventative control only.

“Critical within all of this is the need to coat all of leaf-three. If this is not achieved, then we are leaving space for septoria to infect the leaf and thereafter move further up into the plant as the season goes on.

“A leaf-three application is crucial in the context of the entire fungicide programme.  This sets the clock ticking for the subsequent flag leaf and head spray,” he continued.

“However, the initial leaf-three application is critically important as a means of creating an initial disease barrier within the crop.”