SwiftDetect and spray timings for Septoria in wheat

21 May 2021

The most damaging disease to UK cereal crops, part of what makes Septoria just so devastating is its unpredictability.

With a long latent period, growers have – until recently – been unable to identify the level of disease in their crop until visible signs emerge as yellow and brown lesions on the leaf. By this time, the disease has taken hold.

Losses in yield can be as high as 50%, with reductions in quality of the remaining crop. To prevent this, growers have had no choice but to use blanket fungicide treatments, spraying according to growth stage.

However, it no longer has to be this way. SwiftDetect is a new rapid detection test, currently able to identify even low levels of Septoria in wheat. We say currently, as the test is also being developed to identify diseases such as Yellow Rust, Brown Rust and Mildew in wheat, as well as other diseases in different crops.

Using SwiftDetect is hassle free; simply go online, post a sample of 10 leaves to Microgenetics and get actionable insight into the level of disease in 1 business day*. Which leads us to the focus of this blog: how insight from SwiftDetect will help you to make informed decisions around what products to use, and when to spray.

The importance of spray timings

Spraying crops with fungicides helps to protect wheat leaves, so that infections are unable to take hold. The final three leaves of wheat are at risk of infection as soon as they emerge, so proper timing of these sprays is essential.

This is particularly the case as environmental issues associated with fungicides have led to some key treatments being banned. This is made more challenging where Septoria exhibits a degree of evolutionary mutation, meaning it can keep up to pace with innovation in fungicides. Therefore, growers can no longer rely on the effectiveness of fungicides alone to treat the disease; application timing is crucial.

Currently, spraying is governed by the crop growth stage. Timings are as follows:

  • T0 – leaf 4 – GS30
  • T1 – Leaf 3 – GS31-32
  • T2 – Leaf 1 (flag leaf) – GS39
  • T3 – ear – GS61-65

When these timings are adhered to, treatment can be effective. However, even being a couple of days late can have a huge impact on disease levels. Furthermore, when growers are unsure about the level of Septoria in their wheat, then more robust treatments are used as a preventative measure – even if Septoria levels could be low.

How SwiftDetect can help

Using SwiftDetect could mean moving away from growth stages governing when to spray, to what the actual disease loading is in the crop. This will result in better targeting and more effective treatment, with growers aware if Septoria is actually present before they spray.

SwiftDetect can also help overcome issues regarding what treatment to use. For example, if low levels are identified, a multisite and /or preventative fungicide may be used. Where SwiftDetect indicates levels are higher, the decision may be made to use more robust, curative fungicides. As a result, growers can save money and help the environment through being more selective about when the more expensive, curative treatments are used – with no compromise to yield quality.

As SwiftDetect is a single-cost test, it is easy for users to repeat and monitor Septoria levels over time. This will allow growers to measure the impact of treatment used. This could help with future decision making around what fungicides work best for different varieties, as well as timings.

Ready to give SwiftDetect a go?

Click here to order your tests today!