Mildew control key to successful poppy crops in northern Tasmania
A preventative fungicide program that successfully controls both leaf and systemic downy mildew is the backbone of a successful poppy crop for northern Tasmanian grower, Ben Morrison.
Mr Morrison, who farms at Evandale, south-east of Launceston, said poppies were a finicky crop but could be very rewarding if grown properly. “Some people just don't have the patience for them but if they're treated right, they'll treat you right,” he said. “Our biggest challenge where we are is it's wet and with that comes disease."
In the past, leaf downy mildew was the major issue but that changed in 2014 with systemic downy mildew appearing in crops and causing considerable damage.
“Leaf downy is ok because we just have a set programme on that, but the systemic downy mildew is the scary one. It's an evil we've learned to live with but we're not able to eradicate it.”
Mr Morrison said systemic downy mildew was soil borne or seed borne and could be fatal to plants and crops if left unchecked. Last season, the decision was made to apply ORONDIS® Flexi fungicide from Syngenta to control systemic downy mildew.
“We used ORONDIS® Flexi as our big hitter,” Mr Morrison said.
ORONDIS® Flexi, utilises complementary modes of action to help maximise the yield potential of poppy crops.
“ORONDIS® Flexi contains two active ingredients which work together to provide control of both types of downy mildew,” said Syngenta Territory Sales Manager Wayne Richardson.
“It gives very high levels of control and when used as a preventative option, keeps poppies free of disease at a critical time of the season,” Mr Richardson said.
“Having dual activity, there is no need to tank mix with other products.”
Last season Mr Morrison applied ORONDIS® Flexi four weeks prior to flowering when there was enough leaf area in the crop to take up the fungicide and move systemically through the plant.
“Last year ORONDIS® Flexi went on and we had confidence in it, and it just sorted everything through to the end." Mr Morrison said there was an option to use two applications of ORONDIS® Flexi through the season, but as last season finished early, it wasn’t needed.
He said systemic downy mildew was there to stay and they were looking at extending rotations, working on hygiene and being careful with their chemistry. The lower demand for poppies this season has also helped their rotations.
“Generally, we grow a hundred to a hundred and fifty hectares and this year we cut back to forty hectares. It's a good excuse for us to push our rotations out a bit and try to get the benefit in the long run.”
“We rotate poppies one in four years at the moment, just because we're pushing it, but after this year, we'll be able to push a few paddocks out to one in five, which will be good."