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Pesticides – Crucial To Your Food Supply

Words matter. As a professional communicator, I spend a tremendous amount of time working with words: determining which ones make the most impact toward a goal, aligning them to the tone and tenor of an occasion, organizing them to articulate a thought with clarity.

We put a lot of stock into words, as we should. Language helps us to understand the world around us and relate to one another. It’s also true that some words have baggage – thanks to their composition and/or history. Take the word “pesticide.” At first blush, it may sound like a scary word. It has the word “pest” and suffix “cide” right there, front and center, so it must be bad, right? Combine that with the fact that the conversation around pesticides is riddled with misinformation, and “pesticides” fall short of engendering warm, fuzzy feelings.

However, for the millions of farmers across the world who rely on crop protection, including pesticides, to deliver strong crops to help feed the planet, these products do critically important work despite their reputation in some circles. Every year, as much as 40 percent of the world’s potential harvests are lost to damaging insects, weeds and plant disease. Without crop protection tools and practices, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says these losses would double. The results of that would be catastrophic.

There’s no single solution to crop protection, but pesticides are an important tool farmers can use alongside other common and effective practices, including cover crops, tilling, crop rotation and proper timing of planting.

The very real threat of losing crops means that most farmers – whether they employ organic or modern agriculture practices – use some type of pesticide to keep insects, weeds and plant diseases from destroying their crops. That may sound surprising, as there’s a common misconception that organic crops are grown without pesticides. That’s simply not true. Organic farmers must make tough decisions every day, too, including how to manage pests. And that includes the use of pesticides. To keep harvesting the food needed to feed a growing population, all farmers must protect their crops from threats in the field.

Despite their diminutive size, insects can leave behind a broad wake of destruction. An insect tinier than an apple seed spread a disease with no cure among orange crops a few years ago, leading to a $4 billion loss and another battle in the global war against food waste.

Insects aren’t the only culprit. People who enjoy gardening around their homes likely think of weeds as an unattractive nuisance, but invasive weed species play a more sinister role on farms. Weeds steal water, sunlight and nutrients from crops, harming their ability to grow strong and produce food.

Still, the idea of pesticides can make people nervous. “Aren’t those chemicals?” is a question I hear often. But we need not fear chemicals: The world around us is made up of chemicals, and the chemicals used in pesticides are heavily researched, validated and regulated. Before companies can make pesticides available to farmers, these crop protection tools must undergo comprehensive evaluations by regulatory authorities. Here in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency requires all pesticides to pass significant safety studies before they are approved. The regulatory involvement doesn’t stop there: The EPA routinely reviews registered products to ensure they continue to meet safety standards.

It’s easy to see how the myths about pesticides keep spreading. Like you, I want the best for my family. I want to feed my three kids safe and nutritious foods, developed by an agriculture system that protects our precious natural resources. Pesticides, even if they sound intimidating, make that possible. And for that, I am thankful. Without them, agriculture production will not be able to keep pace with the growing demands of society.

So what’s in a name? When you’re a communications professional in agriculture – sometimes a whole lot. But my colleagues and I are committed to championing facts over fiction, for pesticides and otherwise, when it comes to protecting the solutions that drive progress for modern agriculture and the people who are charged with helping feed the rest of us.

 

Crops Ripening Very Fast

The drought during July has caused rapid senescence on many winter wheat and spring barley crops. A fair acreage of winter wheat crops have been harvested for whole crop. In order to ensure harvested crops are kept free from pests,stores need to be thoroughly cleaned to ensure any debris that may be harbouring pests is removed.Pests arise from within the store and not from harvested grain. Reldan can be applied to empty stores to combat grain store pests.

Autumn planning

The recent rainfall will bring slugs back up onto the soil surface and there will certainly be a need to assess numbers for autumn planting. An easy way to trap is to use dry food such as breakfast cereal (muesli) or similar and place a tablespoon under a slate or fertiliser bag. Traps should be checked early in the morning approximately two days after being placed in the field. Slugs don’t like fine firm seedbeds so good cultivation can reduce the risk of damage as can deeper sowing. There are also some cereal seed treatments which can protect seed hollowing by slugs but damage to shoots remain a threat.BYDV protection can be given in seed treatment as well as takeall and autumn foliar diseases.

Potatoes

The risk of blight remains high with great variations in particular areas due to localised showers. To try and keep crops free from blight where pressure is severe requires short intervals appropriate for high risk and also the use of fungicide products with curative activity. Fungicides with good rainfastness will be very beneficial given the current showery conditions , especially because it’s been difficult to accurately predict the timing and location of showers.

 

Propionic Acid

Propionic acid has an energy value of 1.5 times that of barley so as well as preserving the grain it also adds to its energy value. With Propionic treatment, harvesting can take place when there is still surface dampness on the grain, dew or rain. Harvesting can start earlier in the morning or after rain and continue later at night, giving a quicker more flexible harvest, which leaves extra time for autumn cultivations. By harvesting before grain is fully ‘ripe’ a higher yield is also obtained, reduced shedding losses may save 200kg per hectare.

Natural vitamin E levels in moist grain, whether treated or not, are destroyed during storage. When moist grain forms a major part of the diet a mineral/vitamin supplement high in vitamin E should be used.

Treated grain can be stored simply on a dry floor. It should not be stored with untreated grain. Check MC and auger rate regularly.

 

Dry Weather takes Toll On Crops & Grass

I think it would be fair to say conditions over the last couple of weeks make farming a much more pleasant occupation. Crops have moved rapidly through the growth stages and consideration should now be given to pre harvest treatments of glyphosate. Winter wheat and spring barley crops have been badly affected with dry conditions with many crops senescing prematurely. The continued warm weather has encouraged high populations of aphid in all crops but it is important to note that unless absolutely necessary an insecticide should not be applied as bees are very active at present. The main period of egg laying by the first generation of carrot fly is now over. Second generation flies will appear from early august and foliar insecticide sprays targeting the adult will be needed at that time. Much of the winter barley has now been harvested with respectable yields given the dry conditions.

Potatoes

Due to the considerable amount of new growth being produced at present, it is essential the product being used is fully systemic to properly protect the new leaves being put on between applications. Later planted crops are at higher risk as they produce more new growth between applications than earlier planted crops, at a time when the level of inoculum in the air is progressively increasing. Of the fully systemic fungicides, only those based on propamocarb appear to effectively control the A2-13 genotype. INFINITO containing propamocarb and fluopicolide controls all strains of blight, with no resistant genotypes found to date. Although a translaminar product, Syngenta have shown that REVUS also gives very good protection of new growth, and offers an alternative mode of activity to propamocarb.

As the crop canopy closes across the drills, the crop starts to initiate tubers. From this point on these daughter tubers are vulnerable to infection, so fungicide selection must also consider introducing tuber blight control, spread by zoospores being washed off any infected leaves or stems. During the main canopy development phase the rate of new growth is extremely rapid. This places a huge uptake demand on the uptake of all nutrients, and in conditions of such rapid growth any nutrient that is limited in availability will suppress haulm growth, and as tuber initiation begins, tell the plant to form fewer tubers also. Manganese, sulphur and magnesium are three of the potentially most limiting trace elements, and timely application of these nutrients in an immediately available foliar formulation will offset this yield limiting effect.

Make sure nozzle type used is correct to ensure sprayer pressure, droplet size and water volume applied are as per the label; these factors are as important as product choice in terms of achieving good coverage of the foliage. Inspect and calibrate nozzles regularly to maintain performance. Trials have shown that fitting angled nozzles alternating to face forwards & backwards along the boom gives better coverage of the plant and significantly reduces drift.

Pre Harvest Glyphosate

With the recent sunshine hastening the ripening of cereal crops,thoughts will now turn to grain quality, moisture levels, and ease of harvesting. This year in particular grasses and other weeds are a real problem in many fields. Pre harvest application of glyphosate is an essential tool to improve the efficiency of harvesting, giving a range of benefits. grain moisture, faster harvesting and sooner baling of straw.

Note however, do not use glyphosate on any crops where seed may be saved for re-sowing.

Independent trials carried out over a number of years in GB looking at the effect of using Roundup in various replicated treatments consistently show moisture contents being reduced by 2.0-2.5% at harvest compared to plots where no treatment is applied.

With a wide range of glyphosate products available, which offers the best performance in the field, and best value for money? First off, it is not the price per drum that should be compared. With different formulation types having different strengths of active per litre and therefore different rates of use, it is the price per acre treated that should be compared, and what level of performance is being obtained from each. Glyphosate itself is not very soluble therefore it depends very much on the salts and wetter’s to enhance its performance. Tallow amine products de-wax the leaf surface and cause cell damage, whereas the ROUNDUP ENERGY wetter does not damage the leaf surface, so the uptake of glyphosate into the leaf is much more effective than with the ETA product, and the level of long-term kill achieved from ENERGY is significantly greater.

The potassium salt in Roundup Energy is also taken up significantly faster than the isopropylamine salt; as a result ENERGY is rainfast within 1 hour of application and cultivation can commence as soon as 2 days after application whereas the IPA glyphosate products need a minimum of 6 hours to be rainfast and 5 days minimum before cultivating.

Application should be made once the grain moisture gets down to 30% or below, ideally 10-14 days (and not less than 7 days) before cutting. An easy and reliable test to estimate this 30% moisture level is to press the thumbnail into a number of grains; if the indentation holds on all the grains the crop is ready for spraying.

 

Grassland

As much of the grassland acreage went untreated for weeds prior to both first and second cut it is important to inspect fields intended for cutting and grazing in order to allow the spray interval for stock rotation.

Docks are the most damaging weed which infest our grassland farms. Over the last number of years Forefront has been the outstanding product for controlling docks in Northern Ireland. In addition to docks it will also control nettles, thistles, buttercups, ragwort and chickweed giving a complete clean-up in your fields.

With many fields showing the effects of the last couple of wet years, rushes have become a major issue on farm. Rushes are relatively easy and inexpensive to control. Spray rushes when they are green and actively growing, and always add a wetter/sticker(e.g. Activator) to enhance uptake into the plant.  Due to the shape of the rush, there is always potential for spray run-off, which the wetter will help to prevent.  The most popular products for controlling rushes in Northern Ireland include Agritox and MCPA 500.

 

Corteva Agriscience – The New Name In Crop Protection

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Thoughts Turn Towards Harvest

All winter barley crops are looking well and the gates are now closed until desiccation pre-harvest. Most winter wheat crops have received their T3 earwash with a few later drilled crops still to be sprayed.  The cornerstone for the T3 head spray fungicide remains the double dose triazole mixes, despite their decline in Septoria efficacy.  Tebuconazole is the most effective triazole for Fusarium in particular and an important active in its own right at this time.  The addition of a strobilurin is essential to maximise the persistence of the triazole, to strengthen activity on Yellow Rust, and delay early leaf senescence. Good grain fill is totally dependent on retaining green leaf area for as long as possible, and the addition of the strobilurin extends the retention of green leaf tissue. ADHB trials continue to show pyraclostrobin (COMET) to be the highest rated strob for use in wheat, being the strongest performer on Yellow rust and the late ear diseases.

Aphids in cereals

As the grains begin to fill the aphids begin to feed at its base on the ear, drawing off the sugars that should be filling the grain if left unchecked. Growers need to continue checking crops for aphids right up to early milky ripe stage (GS73) in barley, late milky ripe (GS77) in wheat, and spray if present in numbers. Where aphids are not present, unnecessary application should be avoided as any insecticide application at this time is not bee friendly. Of the aphicides approved for use for this purpose, SUMI-ALPHA is the least harmful to bees.

Pre Harvest Glyphosate

Winter barley crops are ripening well and thoughts will now turn to grain quality, moisture levels, and ease of harvesting. This year in particular grasses and other weeds are a real problem in many fields. Pre harvest application of glyphosate is an essential tool to improve the efficiency of harvesting, giving a range of benefits:

 

 

Harvest management

-all green tissue removed – ripens any green stems, leaves and pickles allowing cutting to start earlier in the day & continue for longer.

-no green pickles reducing overall grain moisture and drying costs.

-less grain lost over straw walkers caused by green material during threshing.

-faster straw clearance reduces length of weather window required.

-limits sprouting in laid crops.

 

Scutch & general weed control

-the most effective time to control scutch in tillage ground.

-desiccates any other green grass & broad-leaved weeds present, facilitating lower grain moisture, faster harvesting and sooner baling of straw.

Note however, do not use glyphosate on any crops where seed may be saved for re-sowing.

Independent trials carried out over a number of years in GB, looking at the effect of using Roundup in various replicated treatments consistently show moisture contents being reduced by 2.0-2.5% at harvest compared to plots where no treatment is applied.

With a wide range of glyphosate products available, which offers the best performance in the field, and best value for money? First off, it is not the price per drum that should be compared. With different formulation types having different strengths of active per litre and therefore different rates of use, it is the price per acre treated that should be compared and the level of performance is being obtained from each. Glyphosate itself is not very soluble, therefore it depends very much on the salts and wetter’s to enhance its performance. The potassium salt in Roundup Energy is taken up significantly faster than isopropylamine salt; as a result ENERGY is rainfast within 1 hour of application and cultivation can commence as soon as 2 days after application whereas the IPA glyphosate products need a minimum of 6 hours to be rainfast and 5 days minimum before cultivating.

 

Application should be made once the grain moisture gets down to 30% or below, ideally 10-14 days (and not less than 7 days) before cutting. An easy and reliable test to estimate this 30% moisture level is to press the thumbnail into a number of grains; if the indentation holds on all the grains the crop is ready for spraying.

Potatoes

As canopies close, the soil surface will tend to remain damper, encouraging slugs onto the soil surface. Timing is critical for effective control, just before the crop meets across the rows. Take advantage of any rainfall by applying pellets just afterwards, as this will bring slugs up onto the soil surface. Potato varieties particularly susceptible to slug damage include Maris Piper ,Desiree and Kerrs Pinks.

 

Blight fungicides move through the plant in three different ways contact, translaminar and systemic.Dithane,Ranman Top, Shirlan and Tizca are all contact fungicides. These Products protect only the outer surface of the leaf onto which they are deposited.Translaminar products such as Curzate M, Invader, and Revus move into the leaf and redistribute throughout the leaf tissue as it increases in size whilst systemic products such as infinito move in through the leaf surface and upwards into the new growth protecting this from infection also. Products that have zoospore activity are the most effective 1st spray, applied at the rosette stage prior to rapid haulm growth. Shirlan or Tizca will control any zoospores that may be in the soil and provide good protection of the new plant. During the main canopy development phase and  the considerable amount of new growth it is essential the product being used is fully systemic to properly protect the new leaves, being put on between applications. Later planted crops are at higher risk as they produce more new growth between applications than earlier drilled crops, at a time when the level of inoculum in the air is progressively increasing. The way the blight product is applied is as important as the product choice. Make sure nozzle type used is correct to ensure sprayer pressure; droplet size and water applied is as directed on the label. Inspect and calibrate nozzles regularly to maintain performance. Never use any blight product at reduced rates .Do not spray when the leaves are wet as this will significantly increase the likelihood of runoff.

 

Dry Weather Challenging For Young Crops

Most crops continue to benefit from the recent hot weather with many racing through the early stem elongation stages in a matter of days. However the late planting in May and dry weeks since make a challenging combination. With temperatures well above average and daylight hours considerably longer than for a crop drilled in early April, such conditions increase the likelihood of crop stress through too much or too little moisture, or not enough nutrient availability to support the potential rate of growth. As a result many fields are beginning to show variation of colour and growth, and such variation is very difficult to address in a satisfactory way. Manganese (Mn) deficiency is widespread in much of our local soil types, and particularly damaging if not treated. Continuous cereal cropping, ground recently limed and dry soils all increase the likelihood of deficiency. Symptoms begin with small pale green speckles appearing throughout the leaf and these will progress to turn brown unless treated. Barley is particularly susceptible to Mn deficiency.

A young plant that is growing extremely rapidly is producing a huge amount of new plant tissue each day. This rapid growth is limited only by the availability of nutrients to synthesise biomass, dependant on soil fertility and the plant’s own root development to take up the nutrients. It is at this time therefore when nutrient deficiencies are most likely to appear and in doing so, suppress growth rates.

 

The application of a broad-spectrum trace-element mix along with key macronutrients during this time is a very useful and beneficial way to supplement the plant’s nutrient requirements during periods when availability does not meet demand, most likely to coincide with phases of rapid growth ie. during tillering and as stem extension begins. Application of a balanced and readily available source of macro & micronutrients that is topping up what is being made available from the soil at this key time will minimise the adverse effects of restricting nutrient availability.

Spring Barley

Dry conditions have held back disease and at present all crops are clean, but in our typically moist climate the likelihood of Rhyncho and Net blotch infections breaking out are inevitable unless controlled in good time.

Even where crops are considered to be clean, controlling Rhyncho early is much more effective than leaving it until it is seen. Once this disease comes into the crop, any eradicant treatment has limited efficacy, will stress the crop and increase the risk of Ramularia infection. The T1 application should be applied at the end of tillering to the start of stem extension, GS24-31. The T2 is then applied 3-4weeks later during late flag leaf emergence to booting, GS38-49.

Product options continue to be based around core triazoles such as prothio, epoxi and cyproconazole. Prothioconazole remains the strongest performing triazole but epoxiconazole mixes are equally effective options, ensuring the various strains of disease are exposed to as many different actives throughout the programme as possible. Strobilurins continue to improve the performance of the triazole partner, improving Rhyncho, Net Blotch and Rust activity. MOBIUS is a mix of prothioconazole and strobilurin, and is one of the strongest barley products available. SDHIs will also give very good disease control at T1 but if they are only going to be used once then the T2 timing is the better fit for them as it is the most responsive timing in spring barley. Chlorothalonil is also an important component, enhancing the control of Ramularia when applied onto the flag leaf and ear.

 

All trial work continues to underline the responsiveness and therefore improvement in yield and margins of spring barley to a correctly timed 2-spray fungicide programme, consistently outperforming a single application programme. The ‘single hit’ approach attempts to provide protection for the 8-10 weeks required, an unlikely task in almost any scenario.

Where however a low input approach is been adopted, the one application will give best response when applied during mid stem extension GS32-33, maximising Rhyncho control on the upper leaves. This is normally some weeks after the optimum timing for the herbicide application. Mid stem extension is too soon however to get reliable Ramularia control and unlikely to prevent a late infection of Rhyncho.

Spring Wheat

The young spring wheat plant isn’t subjected to the same disease burden as the overwintered winter wheat plant, therefore a two-spray programme usually suffices, with the T1 applied at 1st-2nd node, GS31-32, and the T2 applied at some point during booting, GS41-49. Whilst a large proportion of these crops are harvested as whole-crop earlier than the conventional combined crop, the feed quality of the harvested crop is very dependant on maximising grain-fill, therefore product choices and rates are similar to those of the winter crop, with significant yield responses to a proper programme.

Spring Oats

Powdery Mildew and Crown Rust are the most damaging diseases in this crop. CAPALO & COMET in mixture is the strongest performer in terms of controlling both these diseases and therefore yield improvement. Metrafenone (an active in CAPALO) is extremely effective in terms of Powdery Mildew control. The addition of COMET (a strobilurin) gives unrivalled Crown Rust control.

CAPALO and COMET should be applied at 1st – 2nd node, (GS31-32) eradicating any Mildew and Rust already present, and providing persistency right through to harvest.

 

Lodging Control

Application of SELON at early tillering will have increased tiller and ear numbers and therefore yield potential, but will not have given any reliable strengthening of the straw. Stems that extend rapidly during the stem elongation phase (as has happened this season because of late planting and high temperatures ) are more likely to be weaker and so there is a greater risk of lodging especially where the crop is being pushed on with nitrogen. SONIS can be used but its cut-off in spring barley is 2nd node, GS32. CANOPY is a very useful alternative, safe to the crop and able to be used right up to and including full flag leaf, GS39. If this timing has past, CERONE can be applied up to before awns visible, GS45.

Because the application of SELON at mid to end of tillering (GS23-30) does give reliable later season lodging control in wheat, it is less likely than spring barley that spring wheat will need a growth regulator towards flag leaf unless the crop is particularly dense. If the crop still looks very rank and at risk of lodging as the stem elongates, apply CERONE only, as the flag leaf is emerging. The correct timing for treating spring oats is at 2nd node, GS32.

 
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