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  1. It’s now been 5 weeks since my last blog and a lot has happened in this short time. The Hands-Free Hectare team at Harper Adams has taken delivery of the sprayer from Precision Decisions and the drill from Simtech.

    I also received my first agronomy images and video footage, taken by a drone, from Jonathan Gill . There were close-up pictures and videos to identify the weed spectrum to help decide on a herbicide programme. After ironing out a few technical details, the HFH was sprayed-off just before the Easter break - this was done completely autonomously, ready for the team to set-up the sprayer to apply liquid fertiliser in front of the tractor and get the drill on.

    Blog 2 image 1

    The day finally arrived, the 25th April 2017, a little later than planned. However, we still went ahead. It was an early start from home to head up to Harper Adams to watch the tractor drive itself up and down the field. This moment has been almost a year in the planning and when I arrrived on site the anticipation and excitement was building, with a little nervousness added in to keep everyone on their toes.

    The mission control centre was fired-up and the laptops warmed ready to set the HFH tractor on it’s course. The first run went very well and it was straight.

    Blog 2 image

     Blog 2 image 2

    We started drilling at 3 pm and the nerves soon disappeared as all was going well. With the tractor coming out of the hectare three times to top up the drill and liquid fertiliser tank, we finished drilling at 9.21 pm. It was one very happy moment to complete the task. We are now all looking forward to the Press day this Friday.

    For more information please take a look at the Website: http://www.handsfreehectare.com/

  2. Poor weather and soil conditions has meant a delay in drilling for some of the spring barley in this year’s virtual Cereals Challenge, reflecting the real time challenges that many growers and agronomists have faced this spring.

    Teams working on their Spring Barley plans at Cereals Challenge launch 2...

    The Cereals Challenge was established eight years ago to encourage a new generation of agronomists and farmers into the industry. Organised by crop production specialists Hutchinsons and farm business management company Velcourt, the Challenge is aimed at agricultural students from the UK’s leading universities and colleges, by offering them a virtual crop to manage.

    Reflecting the return to spring cropping that many growers have found themselves in this season as a result of increasing battles against black-grass and the challenges facing the OSR crop, the eight teams in this year’s challenge are competing to grow the best crop of spring barley.

    At the Challenge launch in February, teams were able to choose between two virtual on farm scenario’s in which to grow their barley: either as a high yielding feed crop on heavy soil in a black-grass situation, or as a moderate yielding malting crop on sandy soil with moisture limitations.

    Since then each team has had complete responsibility for their crop - from choosing which variety to grow and drilling details through to making the real-time agronomy decisions on inputs right through until harvest when they will be required to estimate crop yield and quality – and all with the final gross margin in mind, says Paul Hobson of Hutchinsons.

    The Riseholme College team opted to grow KWS Irina on sandy soils as they felt that the black-grass burden would be less of an issue. “However, the dry spring has meant that we had to delay drilling, and we increased our seed rate from 151kg/ha up to 198kg/ha to compensate for this, with a final plant population target of around 400 plants/m².

    “We also dropped the pre-emergence application of Stomp Aqua that was planned due to the later drilling, as the product is not approved to be applied any later than the end of March,” says team captain, Benjamin Hargrave.

    “There has been a lot of discussion about fertiliser as we believe that the sandy soils could have a manganese deficiency. We had planned to apply 15% manganese at GS12-13 and a later dose at GS 31, but with the delayed drilling we opted for a seed dressing containing manganese.”

    The team from Newcastle chose to grow Scholar and push for malting quality. They pushed back their original drilling date by a week, and had already planned to use a higher seed rate of 450 seeds/m².

    “We aimed for very low soil disturbance at drilling to minimise black-grass germination using a Disc Coulter drill, followed by rolling. We planned for a strong pre-emergence herbicide programme so that we were on top of any black-grass early, with the aim of getting the barley well established to increase the crop’s competitiveness against the black-grass,” says Nick Lount.

    Like any real time agronomists, the teams will now need to continue to manage their plots going through until Cereals, ensuring that they respond to any particular crop or seasonal events. The last stage of the Challenge requires them to think about their final fungicide recommendations – and then think about what the final crop yield and quality will be like as a consequence of their recommendations.

    Nick Sanderson from Askham Bryon College in York believes that the Challenge offers a really good opportunity to test agronomy skills within a set time frame.  “We hope to gain valuable experiences from working with representatives from industry-leading companies such as Hutchinsons and Velcourt, as well as learning from the other teams.”

    The winning team will be announced at the Cereals Event, at 5pm on Wednesday 14th June at the Hutchinsons stand (no 926). Follow the 2017 Cereals Challenge on Twitter @CerealChallenge where you can meet the teams and keep up-to-date with what is happening on the plots.

  3. With potato planting underway in Scotland, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons is reporting a much more favourable start to the season than last year.

    Planting is at normal timing this year, whereas last year the cold weather in April delayed the start, according to Cam Murray, northern regional technical advisor.

    Early disease risks
    It is dry in the east of Scotland this spring, most irrigation is primarily for scab control; if the dry weather continues then it will be necessary to irrigate for overall crop establishment.   
    Once potato crops are in the ground it is essential to get them up and meeting in the rows as quickly as possible, says Hutchinsons root crop technical manager, Darryl Shailes.

    “In the drier south, irrigation is also often used for scab management early in the season, but it can be easy to underestimate the need for water early on, purely for canopy development. In dry years it can be a game-changer for crop establishment and maximising yield potential. So even where scab management is not so crucial, early water can be.”

    “Growers in dry regions should consider irrigating as soon as the crop emerges in extreme situations, but don’t go too early as beds can be washed down.”

    He adds that Rhizoctonia can be an issue in Scotland. “We are trying out in-furrow treatments with Amistar (azoxystrobin) for the first time this year for Rhizoctonia control, with a view to enhance the overall yield and to reduce the size variability across the tubers. “

    Starter fertiliser boost
    The use of starter fertilisers, either placed with seed or worked into the soil before planting, can help early crop establishment, notes Mr Shailes.

    Mr Murray agrees with an early base fertiliser, allowing nutrients to get close to the tubers.
    Trials show the benefit to canopy growth is most pronounced in dry, cool years, whereas in “normal” springs there may be less benefit, Darryl says.  

    Pots planting and bed forming

    “Many growers choose to do it as an insurance policy given the vagaries of the weather.”
    In Scotland many growers would split their nitrogen fertiliser but Darryl Shailes says the jury is still out on the advantage from applying split doses of nitrogen fertiliser.  ”Applications are best timed so that nitrogen is available for the period of peak crop demand which occurs during the rapid canopy establishment phase.”

    Focus on pre-em herbicides
    Weed competition is another threat to yield and both experts agree that efforts should focus on pre-emergence control given the limited post-em options in potatoes. Mr Murray says that weed control is crucial to crop establishment and final overall yield.

    There are a number of residual herbicides to consider, even after the impending withdrawal of linuron, the last use of which must be by next June, notes Mr Shailes.

    Key options include products based on metobromuron, metribuzin, prosulfocarb or clomazone.

    “In many respects the new metobromuron-based product is stronger than a comparable linuron-based product, when mixed with the other actives available. It also has better crop safety characteristics across a range of soil types.”  

    Cam Murray concurs that the new metobromuron herbicide is crop safe on all varieties and on light land. He has been using it for a couple of years now.

    While many growers will opt for a single residual herbicide application just prior to emergence, on some soil types there may be a case for using an earlier dose after planting followed by a second application, adds Mr Shailes.

    Mr Murray still uses metribuzin as the base active with various combinations of partner actives, depending on weed spectrum of the field and variety tolerance to metribuzin.

    Mr Murray likes to apply residual herbicides as close as possible to soil cracking usually with a contact herbicide, although slightly earlier if good moisture level is present. In the South, on heavier soils in areas prone to drying out, Darryl points out that it may be worth applying an early residual herbicide while seedbeds are still moist just after planting, before going back with a second application later. There is little value in such an approach on lighter, sandier soils, as their proneness to moving around reduces the efficacy of residual chemistry if it is applied too early, he notes.

    Starting blight control
    Cam Murray says that the blight programme needs to be part of the early management strategy, particularly as the new dominant strains develop in cooler weather. “We start protection at rosette stage, with a mixture of products focusing on translaminar and systemic products until we reach stable canopy and spray every 7 days, depending on blight pressure. The disease pressure and hence the spray interval will be indicated by the new Hutton criteria this year. “

    PCN -  the sleeping Scottish giant
    Mr Murray says that Scottish growers need to be more aware of the risk of PCN.  “I see Scotland as Lincolnshire was 15 years ago; PCN is our sleeping giant!”

    pcn field damage

    “Crop intervals are hugely important for a number of key potato pathogens with PCN being number one on the list. We need to use precision soil sampling to accurately map the areas of infestation within a field, and implement management strategies with the use of resistant varieties, specialist cover crops, nematicides should all be considered so this problem can be managed properly.”  

  4. Signs of flag leaves emerging almost a month earlier than normal in some southern wheat crops have reinforced the importance of using regular field inspections not calendar date to determine spray timings.

    Leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons has picked up on several reports of leaf one emerging, with Gallant, Skyfall and Cordiale highlighted as three particularly forward varieties around the Wash, in parts of south Essex and some areas south of London.

    The unusually advanced nature of these crops is in stark contrast to others elsewhere that are struggling to get going in recent dry, cool conditions and creates considerable challenges for spring fungicide programmes, says technical development director David Ellerton.

    “There is a huge variation in growth stages of winter wheat across the UK, with many late-sown crops struggling in dry soils. The majority of crops are around GS 32 with leaf three emerged or emerging, but the most backward are still at GS 30-31. Some seem to have stopped growing altogether.”

    While many of the most advanced wheats were sown early and thrived during a mild autumn and winter, some later-sown crops are also showing signs of early flag leaf emergence. It is therefore unclear whether the exceptional development is due to the relatively mild growing period so far, or a stress reaction triggered by dry soil conditions.

    Keep leaves protected
    Any growers with very advanced crops must be prepared to treat them as soon as the appropriate growth stage is reached, regardless of the calendar date, Dr Ellerton says.
    “Flag leaf emergence in most crops will be around the usual timing of mid-May, but if it is out early you’ve got to protect it. Even if Septoria risk is currently relatively low in dry, cool conditions, the situation can quickly change, as we saw in 2012 when we went from drought to deluge (see Figure below).

    England Weather Patterns 2011-12 Season
     

    “It’s not worth the risk of delaying. In this situation missing the flag leaf timing will leave the most important leaves for yield production unprotected with huge implications for yield reductions.”

    Dr Ellerton recommends applying a mixed T2 spray based on the varied modes of action of a multisite protectant, SDHI and triazole. Where flag leaf sprays are applied early he advises increasing the doses of the multisite and SDHI components to extend Septoria protection as far as possible and help bridge the gap through to harvest.

    Dr Dave Ellerton advanced wheat growth stages

    However, whatever rate or product is used, spray intervals should still not exceed three to four weeks, so early T2 application is likely to require an additional spray later in the programme to protect crops throughout the remaining growing period and avoid compromising yield, he adds.

    “If crop growth slows down and extends the gap between flag leaf appearance and ear emergence, there may be a need for an interim spray between T2 and T3. If not, and crops remain very forward with ears also emerging early, these should be protected as normal with a T3 fungicide, and then an additional spray considered three to four weeks later.

    “Fungicides don’t offer the same curative ability they once did, so it is essential crops are treated at the correct growth stage to avoid disease getting established.”

    With growth stages more varied than ever this season, Dr Ellerton stresses the only sure way to accurately determine optimum fungicide timing is by walking fields and inspecting crops closely, not relying on calendar date.

  5. According to John Pelham, Anderson’s business consultant, the ability of farm businesses to identify and address loss making areas is key to improving resilience against future threats, such as Brexit.

    He believes that every grower should know where yield occurs, where the costs are and the financial consequences of management decisions.  For arable producers, this could be taking an under -performing crop out of the rotation or removing low yielding parts of fields, such as outer headlands, from cropping plans, but it might also mean investing more in higher potential areas.

    “However, being able to measure field performance and understand unit costs are critical; if you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it,” he says.

    Visitors to the Hutchinsons stand at this year’s Cereals Event will have the opportunity to see how the company’s Omnia Precision software enables this approach, with the launch of two innovative new features, yield performance mapping and cost of production mapping.

    Yield Performance Mapping

    Hutchinsons Omnia Precision system allows growers and agronomists to analyse multiple layers of field data – including yield maps – to pin down under performing areas and inform management decisions.

    Field Performance Capture (3)

    “Generating yield maps is no more than an exercise in data collection; when actually it’s how this data is interpreted in conjunction with all the other factors that can affect yield that’s valuable, and the consistency of that yield over seasons,” explains services leader, Matt Ward.

    With the Omnia yield performance mapping capability, it’s possible for growers and agronomists to identify and map areas of fields by categorising them in terms of the consistency of performance such as poorly consistent yield, good consistent yield and so on.”

    “In this way, management decisions can be made based on this sub-field information; it may be that a higher yielding area of the field has shown up to be potentially inconsistent, so it may not be worth pushing this area whereas if another area delivers  an average yield and is potentially consistent, it could be worth investing in this.

    Being able to link this yield performance data with cost of production is key to profitability, so we have introduced a second feature that can do just this, he says.

    Cost of Production Mapping

    Using Omnia, growers are able to create average cost of production information by crop, market outlet, variety or by field using known or predicted costs, with known or predicted yields.

    “Where growers have variable inputs or yield map data, it makes sense that they want to manage costs and their crops on a more site specific basis.”

    However, the variation in output across a field and the increasing use of variable input applications means that some elements of cost of production may be misleading when done on a field scale, says Mr Ward.

    “Using the Omnia cost of production mapping,  it is possible to generate a quick and easy snapshot of individual site performance based on standard industry costs, but for those that have more detailed cost information this can be easily adopted to show much more precise information, bespoke to the individual farming business.”

    Used in combination, these Omnia features provide growers and agronomists with a unique and powerful way of addressing variability across the farm business, and eliminating loss making areas, that impact overall farm profitability.

    To find out more about these features and any other information on the Omnia Precision Agronomy system, visit the Hutchinsons stand No 925 over the course of the Cereals event where our specialist Omnia team will be available to demonstrate and discuss the system.

  6. Hutchinsons has seen a continued increase in the amount of maize now being grown within the UK and recent growth has been fuelled by the rising demand for the crop as a feedstock for biogas production.

    As a consequence, the crop is being grown more widely across the UK, on differing soil types, in varying regional climatic conditions and across a wider variety of individual farm businesses, with differing rotational demands.

    “One of the key challenges now facing the grower is the likely impact of harvest on soil management. Hutchinsons Energy began looking in depth into this issue in 2014 and has built up useful expertise to offer advice to growers,” explains Kiryon Skippen, Hutchinsons energy manager.

    “Heavy machinery working in the autumn, when wet soils are unable to take their weight, can result in soil compaction and associated soil erosion and soil wash. This constitutes a real threat with potential penalties to Basic Payment Schemes and long term damage to soil structure, which can have serious consequences for following cropping in the years ahead.”

    Maize cobs

    “Where fields are not being cropped over winter, under sowing, or after sowing, with cover crops will reduce soil loss and soak up surplus nutrients. Hutchinsons has found that an Italian ryegrass or hairy vetch mixture broadcast 6 weeks after maize drilling has beneficial effects.”

    Variety Selection

    The last three years have all been different from a climatic perspective and this highlights the risks involved in maize varietal selection, adds Peter Brundle, commercial seed specialist for Hutchinsons.

    “2014 was near perfect in all respects; sufficient heat, good light and adequate rainfall. 2015 saw good growth from light and rainfall, but low temperatures in the latter stage of maturity resulting in delayed harvesting.”

    Harvesting Maize

    “There was a slow start to 2016 with poor light levels, followed by very dry conditions and excessive heat in August and early September, causing rapid dry-down.”

    “So, when planning variety choice, the land type and an acceptance of differing climate and growing conditions should be considered. Opting for a selection of variety types and maturity ranges would be advisable, to avoid late harvesting, as well as spreading the harvest work load,” he says.

    However, he points out that Hutchinsons trials show that there are some varieties which seem able to cross the boundaries of climatic variables and provide consistent results.

    “We have also seen a shift in sales to earlier maturing hybrid varieties, to ensure harvesting is not delayed.”

    The Pioneer range has produced consistent performers in our trials. P7892 has been the most consistent performer over the three years, and in the exceptional conditions of 2016, a good producer of Metabolisable Energy (ME), he says.

    Kiryon Skippen, notes that many growers have recognised this consistency in performance and that P7892 regularly forms the foundation of many people’s variety choices.

    Newer varieties P7326, P7378 and KWS Autens, coped well with the stressful 2016 growing conditions and were in the top performing quartile of varieties tested, despite being classed as very early varieties, he adds.

    Later varieties, which offer the prospect of longer season growth, a later harvest date and therefore potentially more ME in the right conditions, were also assessed in the trials.

    “The later variety Indexx from RAGT produced the highest dry matter yields at our Suffolk trial site and close to top ME levels. In addition, after two years of trials, the medium maturing variety Movanna from DSV looks like it will provide good reliability.”

    As confidence in this variety builds, Kiryon Skippen points out that growers pleased with its performance in 2016, are now keen to feature it in their variety selection for 2017.

    “In western areas, the well - established “early” variety Agiraxx continues to be a popular choice, following several years of prize winning performance.”

                                                                                                                                             

  7. As potato planting gets underway, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons is reporting stark differences in how growers should get crops off to the best start given the extreme variations in field conditions across the country.

    Potato planting

    Unusually dry weather in south-eastern areas could make early irrigation worthwhile on some crops, whereas the situation is very different further west where planting progress on wet soils is behind schedule and patience is vital to avoid compromising crop establishment.

    Early Irrigation

    Soils are drier than usual across much of East Anglia and the southeast following below-average rainfall during March and over the winter, which has allowed planting to progress but could hinder early development, says Hutchinsons root crop technical manager Darryl Shailes.
    “Once potato crops are in the ground it is essential to get them up and meeting in the rows as quickly as possible.
    “Irrigation is often used for scab management early in the season but it can be easy to underestimate the need for water early-on purely for canopy development. In dry years it can be a game-changer for crop establishment and maximising yield potential. So even where scab management is not so crucial early water can be.
    “Growers in dry regions should consider irrigating as soon as the crop emerges in extreme situations, but don’t go too early as beds can be washed down.
    “Don’t forget, irrigation models assume the ground is at field capacity on 1 April, but I’m pretty sure a lot of fields in the southeast won’t be anywhere near that this year.”

    Darryl on irrigator
    Darry Shailes

    Waiting Game

    In contrast further west, Herefordshire agronomist Andrew Goodinson says recent wet weather has hampered planting progress, which he estimates to be around 20% behind normal. Some chitted crisping varieties such as Lady Rosetta had been planted on light land by the start of April, and some early chipping Amora, but progress has been frustratingly slow for many.

    He urges growers to be patient and wait for soils to dry-out properly, rather than forcing seedbeds in sub-optimal conditions and causing compaction that will seriously affect crop growth and yield potential. Growers must also allow enough time between bed preparation operations for soil to dry-out sufficiently, he says.

    “Potatoes have a great ability to catch up and compensate for a few days delay, so it’s really not worth the risk of going too early. It’s such a big investment you can’t afford to get it wrong.”

    Mr Shailes agrees. “You cannot afford to have compacted seedbeds for growing potatoes. Working the soil on the wrong day is the worst position to be in.”
    As well as damaging soil structure, planting too early on wet soils also risks increasing the incidence of black leg, rots and Rhizoctonia, Mr Goodinson warns.

    Andrew Goodinson HS
    Andrew Goodinson

    If seed is being used from different batches or sources, he suggests always growing a reference sample of each batch in the same field so that any differences in performance attributable to seed quality can be highlighted. The Hutchinsons Fenland potato trial site is examining seed quality in more detail.

    Starter Fertiliser Boost
    The use of starter fertilisers, either placed with seed or worked into the soil before planting, can help early crop establishment, notes Mr Shailes.

    Trials show the benefit to canopy growth is most pronounced in dry, cool years, whereas in “normal” springs there may be less benefit, he says. “Many growers choose to do it as an insurance policy given the vagaries of the weather.”

    Mr Shailes says the jury is still out on the advantage from applying split doses of nitrogen fertiliser and applications are best timed so that nitrogen is available for the period of peak crop demand which occurs during the rapid canopy establishment phase.

    Focus on Pre-Em Herbicides
    Weed competition is another threat to yield and both experts agree that efforts should focus on pre-emergence control given the limited post-em options in potatoes.

    There are a number of residual herbicides to consider, even after the impending withdrawal of linuron, the last use of which must be by next June, says Mr Shailes.

    Key options include products based on metobromuron, metribuzin, prosulfocarb or clomazone.

    “In many respects the new metobromuron-based product is stronger than a comparable linuron-based product, when mixed with the other actives available. It also has better crop safety characteristics across a range of soil types.”

    Indeed, minimising risks to crop growth is a top priority for all potato herbicides. Mr Goodinson says pre-ems should always be applied at least one week before crop emergence to avoid any detrimental effects.

    While many growers will opt for a single residual herbicide application just prior to emergence, on some soil types there may be a case for using an earlier dose after planting followed by a second application, adds Mr Shailes.

    For example, on heavier soils in areas prone to drying out it may be worth applying an early residual herbicide while seedbeds are still moist just after planting, before going back with a second application later. There is little value in such an approach on lighter, sandier soils, as their proneness to moving around reduces the efficacy of residual chemistry if it is applied too early, he notes.


  8. Early disease infection can significantly limit growth and yield potential of both wheat and barley so priority should be given to keeping disease in check as soon as spring growth begins, warns Hutchinsons Technical Development Director, Dr David Ellerton.

    “Our experience from the extremely high rainfall conditions of last season has exposed the difficulties of trying to control Septoria tritici infections once they have become established on the leaves.”

    Dave Ellerton Wheat
    Dr Dave Ellerton

    “Wherever possible this season, growers will need to ensure that disease is prevented from spreading up the plant by adopting a strong protectant approach, not just at the T0 (mid to late tillering) stage but also at the so called T1 timing of GS 30-32 which is targeted to protect final leaf 3.”

    He recommends that in order to try to avoid foliar diseases infecting newly emerged leaves, it is vital that the gap between any T0 and T1 sprays should not exceed 3 to 4 weeks, and that the inclusion of a multi-site active ingredient, such as chlorothalonil or folpet in any T1 spray will help to prevent relying on curative measures of control should the septoria become established within the crop.

    He points out that the inclusion of other active ingredients in the T1 spray should be determined by disease risk, based on weather patterns and varietal susceptibility.

    “Utilising the latest Seedstats information, showing the likely area of varieties sown this season and the latest AHDB recommended list, it gives a clear insight as to the disease risk of the top 13 varieties of winter wheat.”

    “This table clearly shows a high susceptibility of a number of key varieties to Septoria tritici, where a high dose of a strong triazole fungicide based on prothioconazole or epoxiconazole should be utilised, in addition to a multi-site product.”
     

    Winter Wheat Table DE Article

    “Consideration should also be given to including an SDHI fungicide at this timing, particularly if the weather has been suitable for disease development or an extended gap between the T0 and T1 spray suggests a level of curative control may be needed.”

    “Bixafen and fluxapyroxad (Xemium) offer very good septoria control and the new SDHIs this season, benzovindiflupyr (better known as Solatenol) and fluopyram (in combination with bixafen), have both shown good activity in Hutchinsons and independent trials.”

    Dr Ellerton advises that all crops should be monitored closely to avoid rust issues this spring and careful choice of active ingredients should be made to give rapid knockdown of established disease.

    “This includes active ingredients such as the triazoles; epoxiconazole, tebuconazole, cyproconazole and metconazole while strobilurins including azoxystrobin and pyraclostrobin offer an alternative mode of action against rusts,” he says.

    Consideration should also be given to the control of stem base and root diseases such as eyespot and take-all, particularly in second wheats.

    “Inclusion of certain strobilurin fungicicides (e.g. azoxystrobin and fluoxastrobin) can help reduce take-all as well as promoting rooting in more backward crops; which may be of value in scavenging for nutrients, or helping overcome possible drought later in the season. “

    “Certain SDHI fungicides can also increase rooting and show some eyespot activity, adding to the justification for their use at earlier timings.”

    Winter Barley
    In winter barley, the T1 fungicide timing during stem extension and early node formation (GS 30-31) has been shown to be crucial in optimising yield potential, says Dr Ellerton.
     
    Winter Barley Table DE Article

    Recent trial results have shown that SDHI based products such as bixafen, isopyrazam or fluxapyroxad are particularly effective against the key diseases of Rhynchosporium and net blotch and in most cases programmes should be based around this chemistry.
    He notes that the latest entry into the SDHI arena, benzovindiflupyyr (Solatenol), has also shown good activity in trials to date and should be considered as a good alternative option.

    However, he also adds that recent work by AHDB has indicated the possibility of strains of net blotch which are less well controlled by SDHIs, so any fungicide mix will need to contain a different mode of action, such as the triazole prothioconazole.

    Consideration should also be given to adding a multi-site ingredient such as chlorothalonil or folpet, which often show an increase in yield in trials, he says.

    He advises that where varieties are susceptible to powdery mildew and while prothioconazole offers a good level of control, it may be necessary to add a specific mildewicide such as proquinazid or fenpropimorph.