Fungicide spray window in southern canola crops a game changer
The introduction of Aviator® Xpro® to control sclerotinia in canola on Mark Harmer’s Victorian property has delivered both a significant yield advantage, and a much wider spray application window.
Sclerotinia can seriously damage canola yield on the third-generation grower’s Dookie property, producing significant yield penalties when in-crop disease control isn’t right.
With the management of sclerotinia an absolute priority, Mr Harmer has, in recent seasons, turned to Aviator Xpro, a protective and curative fungicide from Bayer, which controls a range of fungal diseases in canola, wheat, barley, chickpea, lentil, faba bean and field pea crops.
Aviator Xpro brings together active ingredients from two different fungicide groups, prothioconazole (Group 3) and bixafen (Group 7), to deliver a broad spectrum of disease control benefits, which are enhanced by Leafshield technology, the unique adjuvant package which delivers exceptional crop coverage, rapid rainfastness and high foliar retention.
Mr Harmer said Aviator Xpro could deliver up to a 30 per cent yield increase in high disease-pressure seasons at Dookie and, in such a high yielding district, that can be a significant amount of money.
“Aviator Xpro has been a game changer,” he said. “And it’s all based around the surfactant package – it’s just incredible when you see it applied to a crop, it just spreads across the leaf so rapidly and gives fabulous coverage.
“By the time you’ve been around the paddock and come back again, it’s dried off. It’s just amazing technology and the difference between Aviator Xpro and other fungicides we’ve used is chalk and cheese.”
Importantly, the rainfast advantage delivered through the surfactant package of Aviator Xpro has opened up the possibility of longer spraying days and more flexibility. Mr Harmer said the product completely changed what has traditionally been a tight fungicide application window.
Aviator Xpro is applied in canola at 30 to 50 per cent flower, normally around August to September, a period during which wet weather can impact on the time sprayers can spend in the paddock. However, the superior rainfastness of the product has given Mr Harmer the confidence to spray for longer.
“Using Aviator Xpro definitely affords us an extra two to three hours spraying a day, which can be up to 150-hectares in any one day. If we’ve got rainfall events coming, it can shorten our spray window, and that’s where we see the big advantage in the product,” he said.
“It’s something I’ve never really seen with other fungicides. Normally we don’t look at the application on the plant, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen something so impressive.”
The longer spray window had also been a game-changer for aerial spray operators such as Stuart Hall from SGE Helicopters. Applying fungicides through the Riverina, north-eastern Victoria, and southern NSW is a big part of the company’s spring spray program and helicopters are an efficient method of getting over the crop quickly, especially in wet seasons.
The rainfast advantage of Aviator Xpro is a key reason why 75 per cent of SGE Helicopter clients use Aviator Xpro to get an effective fungicide out onto canola crops at the right time.
“The under one hour rainfast period for Aviator Xpro really opens up the window of spraying throughout the day,” Mr Hall said. “Any extra hour we can get in, it’s another hundred hectares for us, which is good for us as a company and good for the grower.”
Operations manager and senior pilot at Hazair, based in Albury and Brocklesby, Adam I’Anson, said the rainfastness of Aviator Xpro was a massive advantage when applying fungicides through fixed-wing aircraft.
“With an extra couple of hours of spraying time available, you can confidently spray anywhere from an extra 200 to 400 hectares, and it’s more efficient for us and it’s more efficient for the grower,” he said.
“Compared to a lot of other fungicides on the market, Aviator Xpro also mixes a lot more easily, and when we are finished spraying it cleans up really well, and really there’s no residue left. It means less time for us, and less stress to mix more and keep the job going.”
Mark Harmer believes using Aviator Xpro has been a game changer for sclerotinia control.
“It means we can get the fungicide on at the appropriate time and get the best result, which gives us the best economic return – as a rule, we’ll apply Aviator Xpro every season,” he said.
Article written by Bayer for the winter 2021 edition of Seasons magazine.
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