Effects of break crops, and of wheat volunteers growing in break crops or in set-aside or conservation covers, all following crops of winter wheat, on the development of take-all (Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici) in succeeding crops of winter wheat



Experiments on the Rothamsted and Woburn Experimental Farms studied the effects on take-all of different break crops and of set-aside/conservation covers that interrupted sequences of winter wheat. There was no evidence for different effects on take-all of the break crops per se but the presence of volunteers, in crops of oilseed rape, increased the amounts of take-all in the following wheat. Severity of take-all was closely related to the numbers of volunteers in the preceding break crops and covers, and was affected by the date of their destruction. Early destruction of set-aside/conservation covers was usually effective in preventing damaging take-all in the following wheat except, sometimes, when populations of volunteers were very large. The experiments were not designed to test the effects of sowing dates but different amounts of take-all in the first wheats after breaks or covers apparently affected the severity of take-all in the following (second) wheats only where the latter were relatively late sown. In earlier-sown second wheats, take-all was consistently severe and unrelated to the severity of the disease in the preceding (first) wheats. Results from two very simple experiments suggested that substituting set-aside/conservation covers for winter wheat, for 1 year only, did not seriously interfere with the development of take-all disease or with the development or maintenance of take-all decline (TAD). With further research, it might be possible for growers wishing to exploit TAD to incorporate set-aside/conservation covers into their cropping strategies, and especially to avoid the worst effects of the disease on grain yield during the early stages of epidemics.