Wheat growers in Suffolk and Essex warned to be on the alert for rust attacks

CEREAL farmers are being warned to be on the alert after a potentially damaging disease was spotted in wheat crops across East Anglia, as well as other parts of the UK.

Rust outbreaks have been confirmed in 13 counties, with infections in Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Herefordshire, Kent, Dorset, Hampshire, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire

In the light of the monitoring exercise, which has been carried out by crop experts Syngenta, wheat growers across the country are now being urged to be alert for early rust attacks in the run up to spring.

“With a high percentage of varieties planted this season having some degree of susceptibility to yellow or brown rust, or even both, it’s vital that growers are on their guard,” said Syngenta campaign manager for cereals Melanie Wardle.

“Admittedly, yellow and brown rust can be difficult to tell apart during the early parts of the season. The monitoring initiative has been set up to provide an early warning for both. What is most concerning is that infections are so widespread so early in the season.”

So far Mrs Wardle says rust has been reported as widely as Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex in the East, Herefordshire in the West, Kent, Dorset and Hampshire in the South and Yorkshire in the North. It has also been found in wheat in Leicestershire, Bedfordshire Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.

“Where rust levels look likely to threaten yield it will be important to not only treat crops promptly but also ensure that key fungicides used in programmes provide sufficient rust activity.

Most Read

“For the early spray timing at T0, normally in March, we advocate use of the combined fungicide Cherokee. That’s because its cyproconazole component not only provides curative but also protective activity against rust infection. Its chlorothalonil ingredient brings added protection against Septoria tritici,” she said.

“Later in the season, particularly for flag leaf protection at T2, with many growers likely to be considering a new generation SDHI fungicide this season, here too it will be important to check that your SDHI provides sufficient rust protection. The new generation treatment Seguris, for example, not only shows exceptional rust control but outstanding control of Septoria tritici.”

At the T1 spray timing, Mrs Wardle says using Amistar or Amistar Opti, for example in second wheat for take-all activity, will also provide good activity on rust.

Where rust levels look threatening before the usual T0 spray timing in March, growers may need to consider treating even earlier with an additional spray timing, she said.