Spring barley crops are growing fast and farmers and agronomists alike will have to keep an eye on crops to make sure that they don’t miss timings or that disease doesn’t take hold in crops.

Keeping disease out of crops can also reduce plant stress.

Ramularia is a disease that shows up in plants late in the season and one of the causes of this disease is stress in the plant.

Stress can also be reduced by making sure the plant is not deficient in any nutrients.

Recommended lists

The first thing you should know is what varieties are prone to certain diseases.

For example, Planet is susceptible to net blotch, Planet and Gangway are susceptible to rhynchosporium. Skyway is not very good on net blotch.

None of the varieties on the Department of Agriculture’s recommended lists have very high ratings for resistance to brown rust. All rate an eight for resistance to mildew.

Many spring barley crops are weak on straw breakdown, so having healthy straw is important.

If you are using an imported variety, ask your agronomist for information on that variety.

First fungicide

The first fungicide on spring barley should be around mid-tillering. You need to protect your tillers.

Seventy-eight percent of yield in spring barley comes from the bottom leaves and the stem, so the first fungicide is important to keep the crop clean and to have a good yield at the end of the season.

Prothioconazole is the go-to product for spring barley crops at T1. If net blotch is an issue, then a strobilurin will be needed.

As resistance to mildew is good in all varieties, it is likely mildew will be kept under control with these sprays, but a mildewcide can be added if mildew is present.

Options are an azole - probably prothioconazole or Proline - plus a strobilurin, such as pyraclostrobin, Comet or an SDHI. You should apply an azole and a strobilurin or SDHI in the fungicide application.

Consult with your agronomist on what to apply. Maybe you will be able to apply fungicide with the herbicide or trace elements. Assess disease if you are going out into the crop with the sprayer to make sure the crop is kept clean.

Teagasc research shows the best yields in crops come from when fungicide is applied at mid- to late tillering.