Planning ahead for top quality wheat with a two-pass fungicide application can help maximize grain quality and yields, and provide an additional straw yield increase.
Although many independent agronomists recommend a two-pass fungicide application, the practice is not standard for all wheat growers. Most farmers will apply a fungicide at the heading stage, but an earlier application at the flag leaf stage is not always warranted.
"The two-pass system is a best practice in a case where you have leaf disease that develops early in the season or you have marginal stability issues," said Peter Johnson, independent agronomist.
Another consideration for a second fungicide application is yield potential.
"The increased price of straw can make the economics more favourable to a two-pass fungicide application," said Rob Miller, technical development manager for BASF in Eastern Canada. "Not only do you get an increase in grain yield, but also increased straw yield and improved quality."
For the past two years, wet fall weather has greatly reduced the number of winter wheat acres planted in Ontario. As a result, the amount of straw is reduced. "It's still too early to make accurate predictions, but given the low straw inventories and decrease in wheat acres, quality straw will likely be in high demand in 2015," said Miller.
Using a two-pass fungicide system can significantly increase wheat straw yield by protecting against key cereal leaf diseases such as Septoria leaf spot, tan spot and leaf rust. In 2012, Smart Trials hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) trialed 23 winter wheat varieties by applying one fungicide application and saw an increase in the straw yield by an average of 335 lb. per acre, verses untreated.
In a 2014 trial of spring wheat, BASF demonstrated that an application of Twinline fungicide between the penultimate and flag leaf stages, followed by Caramba at heading, increased straw yields by 644 lb. per acre over an untreated field.
In addition, a two-pass fungicide system will offer financial benefits to growers across many farming operations, such as feeding livestock with clean straw to sustain healthy livestock. A two-pass system will improve grain quality and yield potential, and provide an additional straw yield increase.