STRATEGIC fungicide use in canola paid-off for northern Wheatbelt grower Trevor Piggott last year.
In addition to canola, Mr Piggott and his wife Lizzy operate a continuous cropping program of wheat and lupins over 2850 hectares, including share-farmed land, in the Chapman Valley.
He said sclerotinia was their main disease challenge in canola and he had heard of upwards of 50 percent crop losses due to the disease in the region prior to its management with fungicides.
The family has traditionally applied Prosaro fungicide in its canola crops for protection against sclerotinia, however abnormally short spraying windows due to frequent rainfall events last season triggered a switch to Aviator Xpro due to its short rainfast period, as well as its extra length of protection.
"With the constant rain events that came through, we found Aviator Xpro to be very beneficial," Mr Piggott said.
"It's rainfast in an hour, so it gives a lot more flexibility and confidence to go out and spray - and you're not going to be risking a shower of rain and losing money.
"It's a huge benefit, and after reviewing some trials from around the area, it has proven that it has an extra week of crop protection.
"Another benefit of using Aviator Xpro is that it introduces a new fungicide group.''
Aviator Xpro, from Bayer, contains bixafen, a novel member of the Group 7 (SDHI) fungicides, which also offers an alternate mode of action for resistance management, as well as the proven performance of prothioconazole.
In addition to controlling sclerotinia and blackleg diseases in canola, it combats a wide range of diseases in both pulse and cereal crops.
Offering good compatibility, the fungicide's patented LeafShield formulation technology enhances its activity against diseases and its rainfast period is estimated at around 30 minutes to one hour in most situations.
Mr Piggott employed a two-spray strategy with Aviator Xpro last year due to the wet conditions and said in future years if needed, he would probably rotate it with Prosaro to extend the use of the fungicide groups.
"As part of a two-spray strategy, we would use Aviator Xpro upfront because we feel it gives us the best protection, and if we feel the season requires extra protection, we would probably come back with Prosaro at around 50 percent flowering," he said.
"In a year like last year, with canola prices at record highs - $200 a tonne higher than I have ever heard it before - you want to ensure you are using the best possible protection for your crop to protect your top-end yield.
"We have confidence using Bayer products.
"From using all different Bayer products over the years, we have always found them to be of very high quality - and they work.''
In response to the wet conditions and, hence, potential for high disease pressure last season, the Piggotts applied a mid rate of 650 mL/ha of Aviator Xpro.
Via a medium droplet spectrum on their sprayer, the fungicide spray was applied in a total solution volume of 110 L/ha to ensure good penetration into the crop canopy and achieve the best possible coverage.
Mr Piggott said the new 110L packs of Aviator Xpro would able beneficial for growers.
"At the 650mL/ha rate, we can cover almost 170ha per 110L, which helps make the whole operation more efficient,'' he said.
Sclerotinia disease did infect the region last year, however Mr Piggott said he was happy with the results of the fungicide.
While there was natural variability across their canola paddocks, the crop where Aviator Xpro was applied achieved yields up to 2.5 tonnes per hectare, whereas their overall canola yield average was 2.2 t/ha. Previously, their best average was around 2 t/ha, while the long-term average sits at around 1.6-1.7 t/ha.
The remaining canola paddocks were treated with Prosaro fungicide only as a single application or two-spray strategy.
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