The recent approval of Canopy on spring barley, oats and rye brings not only a safer PGR option, but reassurance to growers as Canopy works across a range of temperatures and timings and is effective in improving rooting, lodging prevention and balancing tillering.“Containing prohexadione-calcium and mepiquat chloride, Canopy is already established in winter wheat and winter barley as a versatile and effective PGR, being more dependable than chlormequat and trinexapac-ethyl (Moddus and Optimus), both of which can be harsh on the crop and affected by variable weather conditions. Canopy is also accepted by the BBPA and BRI for use on malting barley up to growth stage 32, “says BASF’s Sarah Mountford-Smith.A leading agronomist for Frontier has been eagerly awaiting the label extensions for the growth regulator Canopy to include spring barley and oats. Mike Barry warns that oats, in particular, are sensitive to most inputs and are more likely to lodge than any other cereal crop.“We have had chlormequat and Moddus for oats, but both have their downsides. Moddus can be harsh on oats and has less flexibility for use when temperatures are low. More importantly several processors have a policy of zero tolerance to chlormequat due to its potential residue risk. We have moved away from chlormequat in oats and Canopy will fit very well,” says Mike. According to Mike, Canopy is already a valuable weapon in the PGR armoury. “It is efficacious in terms of rooting, lodging prevention and evening out tillering, which is a given, but is also kind to the crop and more flexible in its use across all temperature ranges. Canopy has been our favoured PGR in wheat and barley for these reasons.”“When we apply PGRs in the early spring, it is at a time when temperatures can be quite variable and the weather unpredictable. In winter cereals PGR’s are usually applied at T0 to manage root systems and to even up tillering. At T1 they are used for stem strengthening and lodging reduction. We have the reassurance that Canopy will work across a range of temperatures and timings.”“This spring with early drilling, excellent establishment, an open autumn and a ‘growthy’ season with no checks at all, there will be a high need for PGRs in wheat and barley as crops are advanced. In fact never have I seen such a good situation for winter cereals – hopefully I won’t be shot down with such an optimistic view as the season progresses!” says Mike.“Canopy has been proven to be kind to crops, whereas other growth regulators have been known to scorch. This is particularly important in oats and spring barley. A lot of spring barley in the North and Scotland will be malting barley which has less need for PGR’s, but further north feed barley crops, often grown on high fertility soils, will have a high requirement. We have been using Terpal or Moddus but now we have another option in Canopy which fits nicely into that slot,” says Mr. Barry. “In Canopy we have a non-chlormequat option which is kinder to the crop and equally good at keeping the crop standing. The new label extensions for spring barley, winter and spring oats and rye to add to winter wheat, winter barley and triticale will be a real welcome addition to the PGR’s that we have available, “concludes Mike.In the North and Scotland Peter Gray, Grain and Crop Protection Buyer for W.N Lindsay notes that winter crops have all got off to a good start and have grown well throughout the autumn and winter for the first time in two years.“In fact in a few fields wheat is already half way up my wellingtons and is ridiculously forward and thick for the time of year. The wet and mild winter has undoubtedly increased disease risk and increased lodging risk through weakening stems in high plant populations. Hence there will be a definite need for early fungicides and PGR’s this spring. Last year crops were hardly tillering by this stage and plant populations were low. This year plant populations are high and crops are advanced, so there could be lodging issues that will need managing with a cost-effective PGR,” says Peter.Peter says that, in his estimation, winter wheat plantings have recovered following the weather-related dip last year and that spring barleys are likely at a more normal level in terms of acreage after last year boost. “Most spring barleys have reasonably good standing power but some feed crops on fertile ground with high populations may need regulation. Canopy has proven to be a lot kinder to the crop than chlormequat, Terpal or Moddus so it may have a useful place in the market.”“But in oats it definitely will. Without a shadow of a doubt, Canopy would be a better option in oats than existing chemistry, providing the price is right. Oats lodge very easily, yet you have to be quite careful what you put on as they tend to be rather sensitive. For example an application of chlormequat can have an adverse reaction on oats, stripping off the wax layers. Canopy tends to be much gentler,” says Peter. Peter has seen field trials in oats demonstrating different growth regulators at different timings including Canopy. “The Canopy treatments looked to have worked very well in these oat trials, with no obvious adverse effects. It worked just as well as it does in commercial use on farm on other cereals. The chlormequat treated strip looked to be shorter initially, but at harvest the crop was taller. It seems that the effects of chlormequat had worn off.”But it is not the efficacy of chlormequat that is being questioned; but the potential risk of residues that concerns millers. “Consequently they would welcome the adoption of an alternative PGR such as Canopy. In this crop sector, Canopy fits technically in that it reduces lodging risk, helps with root strengthening and it is kind to the crop. Its widespread adoption on farm will depend on the commercial package that growers are offered,” says Mr Gray.