Crop Monitor is a series of topical updates on cereal fungicide timings throughout the growing season. Updates are provided to growers as free text alerts based on disease levels observed at AFBI trial sites. Regularly updated supporting information and links can be found on this crops section.

Contact your Crops Advisor

For growers wanting to avail of crop monitor text updates please contact your local crops advisor:

Advisor Contact Area
Aveen McMullan 07919 123649


(County Down)

Iain Johnston 07717 732337


(Armagh, Fermanagh, South Tyrone, South Antrim)

Gerard McDaid 07500 029384


(Londonderry, North Antrim, North Tyrone)

Leigh McClean 07795 298662 Crops technologist (Greenmount Campus)

2014 Crop Monitor

28 April 2014

We are now entering the T2 fungicide timing for winter barley  The optimum T2 timing is from flag leaf emergence GS39 to booting GS49. Equally as important as growth stage is maintaining fungicide protection by ensuring the gap between T1 and T2 fungicide timings does not exceed 28 days.

07 April 2014

Winter Crops

Winter crops continue to fall into two distinct groups early and late sown.  Whilst rainfall may not have been excessive in recent weeks some fields still have not had a sufficient dry spell to allow ground to soak and enable spraying and fertilising to be carried out.  

Thick early sown crops have moved into stem extension with both forward wheat and barley already at GS 31.  Most winter barley should have already been sprayed with a T1 fungicide where conditions have allowed.  Late barley and most wheat will be entering the T1 window now, so monitor untreated crops and keep an eye on the weather forecast to make the most of any good spray days coming up.  

Disease levels at this stage are mostly higher than in 2013 due to milder temperatures damp weather and generally thicker crop canopies.  Rhynchosporium is visible in most barley as is septoria in most wheat crops.  Powdery mildew can be found in some crops so assess fields and varieties individually and adjust fungicide choice to diseases present and dose rates accordingly to disease levels in field. 

Ideally by now all winter crops should have received their first nitrogen dressing as well as phosphate and potash and will be entering the window for the second or main N dressing.

Spring Crops

Frustratingly only a small area of spring crops have been sown to date as dry weather has not persisted for long enough to let ground dry out enough and work to proceed.  Relatively warm and damp soils should mean sown crops will emerge quickly once planted so make preparations to follow sowing with N dressings and herbicide applications once crops are successfully in the ground.

2013 Crop Monitor

2 September 2013

Seed dressing

To protect seeds and seedlings from soil borne pests, aphids and seedling diseases consider using a seed dressing.  The HGCA produced charts provides information on approved products for barley and wheat and the pests and disease they control.

Fungicide activity and performance in wheat and barley

Recently introduced restrictions on the three neonicotinoid seed treatments, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are unlikely to affect the control of BYDV in cereals as treatment is still permitted for winter cereals between July and December.  This covers the high BYDV risk period for September and October sown cereals.

Neonicotinoid - Key Messages

Combinable crops

Monitoring Slug Numbers

Last year’s prolonged wet summer, autumn and winter provided ideal conditions for the multiplication in slug numbers.  This resulted in higher than normal damage from slugs in last winter’s crops.  In some areas slugs are still present in considerable numbers.  To avoid damage to vulnerable seeds and seedlings assess the need for slug control in your fields before onset of the high risk post drilling period.  The HGCA produced guide below shows how to trap, thresholds for treatment and ways to reduce the risk of slug damage.  For more detailed information on slug control see the combinable crops main page.

Soil Sampling

Post harvest provides a good chance to carry out soil analysis for nutrients and pH status.  Soil analysis results together with previous cropping history fed into the CAFRE Crop Nutrient Recommendation Calculator can be used to calculate crop nutrient requirements within Nitrate and Phosphate regulations.  Soil pH results indicate if liming is necessary to redress a low PH.  For further information on soil analysis and when best to lime in your rotation either see the combinable crops main page or contact your local crops development advisor.

Crop Nutrient Recommendation Calculator

Combinable crops

24 June 2013

Winter wheat

Most forward wheat in mid to late ear emergence stage.  Flag leaf fully emerged on later crops, booting at present.  Septoria is on the increase and there are traces of yellow rust and mildew.  T2 applications should be completed by now in all crops.  Growers considering a T3 fungicide, apply once wheat reaches flowering stage.

Winter barley

Ears fully emerged in most crops and flowering at present.  Rhynchosporium is on the up in barley across all trial sites with infection levels up to 20% on more susceptible varieties.  Mildew noted on crop at Crossnacreevy and Hillsborough, with traces of brown rust at Crossnacreevy.  There is also quite a lot of spotting which suggests that Ramularia could be a threat.

 Spring Barley

Spring barley is at various stages of development, due to the long seeding period.  On the most forward crops flag leaves are fully emerged and awns will start appearing shortly.  Later sown crops are still at early stem elongation GS 30-31.  Growers planning a single fungicide programme aim for application at flag leaf emergence GS 37-39.  T1 should already be applied for those planning a two spray programme, with the aim of getting T2 spray on as awns emerge.  Growers considering a growth regulator application consult product label for latest safe stage of application.


There appears to be little disease in either winter or spring oats at any of the trial sites.

14 May 2013

Winter wheat

GS 31-32. There are traces of Septoria tritici coming into more susceptible varieties in both winter wheat trials at Hillsborough and Crossnacreevy. All are below 1percent but with the wet weather at the moment and in the next week or so, this splash-dispersed disease could travel up the plants and reach significant levels if unchecked. Apply T1 fungicide for protection at first available opportunity if not already sprayed.

Winter barley

The disease observation plots at Crossnacreevy do not have any disease at present, but the trial at Hillsborough has significant levels of Rhynchosporium infection (>5%) in susceptible varieties such as Saffron and KWS-Cassia. Several more resistant varieties (for example, Volume, KWS Meridian and Florentine) have no Rhynchosporium as yet. As with Septoria in wheat, Rhynchosporium can spread quickly in wet weather and Trace amounts (<1%) of spotting has been recorded in four varieties - this could be the start of Ramularia. Trial plots are at GS32; however the most forward crops on farm have already flag leaves emerged GS37-39, the latest timing for plant growth regulator (PGR). Previously applied T1 spray should provide sufficient protection for three weeks. A shorter interval between T1 and T2 applications may be justified if disease levels are high in crop. If forecast weather is unsettled it may be better to shorten the interval than risk being unprotected.

Spring Barley

Most spring barley has emerged and is clean from disease at present. Where necessary apply nitrogen to emerged crops. Weeds have germinated in the earliest drilled crops and are now at the two to four leaf stage, ideal timing to achieve good weed control. Opportunity to tank mix PGR with herbicide to encourage tillering in addition to keeping straw length short. 

22 April 2013

The combination of a wet autumn and cold winter has resulted in crops that are little further forward in mid April than they were in mid February. In the last week a rise in temperatures has seen crops finally starting to grow. Most winter sown barley, wheat and oats are around GS25-26, with the most advanced crops at GS30-31. Main Nitrogen top dressings and remaining Phosphate, Potash and Sulphur applications should be applied to winter crops, so that as conditions warm up there will be nutrients in the ground to meet the rapid growth phase through to ear emergence.
As a result of the cold conditions and relatively little leaf area there is no disease noted at the trial sites. Growers are advised to check their crops to assess the base level of disease and plan ahead for T1 applications to keep disease out. 

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