Andrew West

Andrew West

Big yields don’t lie

Mid Canterbury-based cropping farmer Andrew West grew fantastic wheat crops this season – with yields of up to 15 tonnes per hectare (ha).

Andrew – who farms a 900 ha, irrigated property at Wakanui, east of Ashburton – grows wheat, barley, ryegrass, peas, radishes, potatoes and other crops. He used both Aviator Xpro and Prosaro, from Bayer CropSciences, as part of the fungicide management regime for his wheat crops during 2014.

Andrew decided to give the company’s new products a go after hearing about them from his local Bayer rep. Aviator Xpro and Prosaro are used to control key fungal diseases in wheat and barley, including Septoria tritici in wheat. He was keen to trial the new products and see how they went.

“Bayer seemed to have a lot of confidence in the ability of both these products and that it would be beneficial if I used them,” he says.

Septoria tritici has been present in New Zealand for many years, but recently has become the main foliar disease attacking wheat. In some cases, it can reduce yields by 50% or more.

“Septoria is really hard to control – especially if it gets established in your crop,” Andrew explains. “Although it is after just one season, I‘ve found that both Aviator Xpro and Prosaro have done a good job at keeping the disease at bay.”

And with wheat yields of up to 15 tonnes per hectare; this suggests that both products have done an excellent job.

Aviator Xpro is a dual combination fungicide that combines the Prothioconazole fungicide with a powerful new fungicide called Bixafen and is ideal for reducing resistance; it is effective against Septoria tritici in wheat. Another innovative feature is its Leafshield™ technology, a patented formulation designed to ensure the product strongly adheres to the leaf and spreads and dries quickly.

Prosaro combines the most effective fungicide against Septoria tritici – Prothioconazole – with tebuconazole. It is the only such dual formulation available in New Zealand and can also be used to control stripe rust and leaf rust in wheat and is the ideal product for helping reduce resistance.

For the current season, Andrew West says he is pretty up-to-date with his wheat programme – with most of next season’s crop in the ground or just about to be by mid-May.

“We’ve been very lucky and had the right sort of autumn this year to help us through,” he explains. “The weather has been really mild and we’ve had enough showers at the right time. We certainly can’t moan about that.”

At this stage, Andrew says it is a bit too early to know what the biggest disease threat to his wheat crop will be for the coming year, but adds that it will all depend on how the season unfolds.

“If we get a dry winter and a mild spring; then Septoria should not be much of a problem for us,” he explains. “However, it is a wet and cold winter, followed by a wet spring – then we’ll be on the lookout for disease.”

No doubt, if there is any likelihood of Septoria tritici being around, Andrew will be in touch with his Bayer rep for another round of Aviator Xrpro and Prosaro to help keep those big yields coming in for next harvest.