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Cereal growers in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) produce some of the highest-yielding wheat and barley crops in the country by continuously adopting innovative new production practices. As these improved farming methods are put into place, it’s common for challenges to arise along the way.
“There are many economic and environmental benefits of direct seeding or no-till in cereal production," says Chad Shelton, asset lead, Syngenta U.S. “However, the increase in adoption of reduced and zero tillage farming methods has also resulted in an increase of potential disease and insect pressures that require new solutions to continue to enhance growers’ bottom lines."
Some of the potential pest pressures include soilborne disease pathogens, such as Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Fusarium, and insects like wireworms.
“I believe no-till is the future of sustainability in cropping systems here in the PNW," says Dr. Tim Paulitz, research plant pathologist with the USDA-ARS. “However, less than 20 percent of growers in the PNW practice no-till or direct seeding, in part due to the increased potential for some soilborne pathogens, namely Rhizoctonia and Pythium. I’ve been in this area for about a decade now, and my trials – even those in fields completely infested with Rhizoctonia – clearly show that seed treatment fungicides will help protect young seedlings against these and other soilborne diseases."
In addition to disease pressure, no-tillers also face the possibility of increased wireworm populations with reduced tillage programs. Wireworms tend to favor the cool, moist conditions that often develop in fields where crop residue is present and can reduce yields up to 80 percent in severe cases.
“Seed treatment fungicides and insecticides are essential components of many growers’ operations in the PNW," says Dr. Richard Smiley, professor of plant pathology at Oregon State University. “In other areas of the country, crop rotation is recommended to help minimize disease and insect pressure; however, because of the economic and climatic constraints on cereal growers, crop rotation isn’t generally practiced in low-rainfall regions of the PNW."
Protecting against harmful cereal diseases and insects is vital as they can severely inhibit the development of a strong, healthy root system.
“A healthy root system is particularly important in no-till operations," Smiley explains. “No-till winter wheat is planted later in the fall than wheat planted in cultivated fields. This means there is less time for the crop to emerge and develop a healthy stand before winter dormancy. It also means cooler temperatures, which are conducive to Pythium development. For these reasons, we always recommend seed treatments to growers in this region." 
Because of the increased pressure from diseases and wireworms, researchers with Syngenta have adjusted the optimal labeled rate recommendations for Dividend Extreme® fungicide and Cruiser® insecticide seed treatments. These new recommendations will enable growers to better combat potential pest problems and continue to achieve maximum return on investment while implementing new tillage and production practices. Seed company representatives are equipped to help growers tailor a Syngenta Seedcare Custom Blend to meet their specific field needs.
“Dividend Extreme should now be applied at 3 fl. oz./cwt," says Dr. Kiran Shetty, technical brand asset lead, Syngenta. “This will deliver 4.5 grams a.i./100 kg of mefenoxam for enhanced activity against Pythium and 18 grams a.i./100 kg of difenoconazole for enhanced activity against Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and dwarf bunt. Syngenta Seedcare also has enhanced the total fungicide solution by partnering Dividend Extreme with ipconazole to increase protection against certain Fusarium species.
For insect protection, Cruiser should now be applied from 0.25 to 1 fl. oz./cwt to better accommodate specific field needs and enhance plant vigor," Shetty explains.
Evolving production practices will always bring new challenges, but that shouldn’t cause growers to shy away. Syngenta is committed to developing the best product offering and recommendations to protect wheat and barley against various pests and maximize yield potential. Growers who integrate agronomic practices with carefully chosen wheat genetics, seed treatments and crop protection products are better able to harvest the best return on investment.
For more information, visit or call the Syngenta Customer Center at 1-866-SYNGENTA (866-794-4368).
©2011 Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, 410 Swing Road, Greensboro, NC 27409. Important: Always read and follow label instructions before buying or using Syngenta products. The instructions contain important conditions of sale, including limitations of warranty and remedy. Cruiser®, Dividend Extreme® and the Syngenta logo are registered trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. is your source for ag news and information on crop pest identification, commodity and market prices, agricultural news & issues, and access to crop production management tools such as crop yield & planting calculators and herbicide, fungicide, and weed control information.