What SwiftDetect taught us about Septoria this season

11 August 2021

This season, our super sensitive test SwiftDetect for Septoria allowed wheat growers to get a glimpse into the level of disease in their crop for the first time – even before visible symptoms emerged.

Using a patented method, the technology behind SwiftDetect is uniquely sensitive. Therefore, even just a few viable pathogen cells could be detected by our team. With a 1 business day turnaround, armed with this insight growers could spring into action before the disease caused real damage to yield and quality.

But it’s not just our customers who gained insight this season. Through analysing over 600 samples, we’ve learnt a lot about Septoria. Here’s 3 of our findings.

  1. Septoria is sneaky: levels can be high with no visible signs

On more than one occasion, our customers have been surprised with the sensitivity of SwiftDetect. Medium to high levels of Septoria have been picked up for some samples, despite no evidence on the leaf of disease.

Luckily, through using SwiftDetect, these growers were able to take action.

  1. Resistant varieties may not be so resistant after all

Whilst resistant wheat varieties on the recommended list did generally show lower levels of Septoria compared to susceptible varieties, their ability to truly resist Septoria has been called into question.

Although at the start of the season many resistant varieties had an undetectable level of disease, this soon turned when the weather warmed up. SwiftDetect was able to identify low to medium levels of disease in resistant varieties; this was even the case for some varieties such as Extase, that with a recommended list score of 8, should have displayed almost complete resistance. This is despite the outer surface of the leaf showing no signs of disease.

This has called into question how resistant these highly scored varieties are: have they been bred to simply not show visible symptoms, or was it just a challenging year? One way to tell of course would be to use SwiftDetect to test different varieties!

  1. Spraying according to disease level rather than growth stage: the way forward?

The way sprays are currently carried out can be problematic for several reasons; firstly, blanket treatments could mean your dosage isn’t right for the level of disease in your crop. This could lead to excess expense as well as over-use of fungicide or a lack of effectiveness in treatment. Timing is also critical when spraying according to growth stage; just a couple of days off, and the treatment may not work well.

Using SwiftDetect benefitted our customers by providing them the insight to spray according to the level of disease in their crop, matching their fungicide dose rate. Let’s not forget that article by Farmers Weekly, where Robin saved £4,000 on his T2 spray this way!

Could this be the future for the industry?

As the seasons go by, no doubt SwiftDetect will bring even more benefits to our customers and insight into devastating diseases such as Septoria. In fact, next year, as we are adding to our service, we’ll also gain insight into Yellow Rust, Brown Rust and Mildew in wheat, as well as Ramularia in Barley.

If you are interested in hearing more about our services next season and would like to be alerted when SwiftDetect is available again, click here to register your interest!