Crop Protection

Quantis Counters Temperature Stress Before Crops Suffer

24 June 2024, UK: As temperatures finally take off this summer, root crops are set to suffer stress levels that will impact on yield. The longer the stresses persist without relief, the greater the losses that will occur in potato and sugar beet crops.

However, crops can be effectively pre-primed for high temperature conditions with Quantis treatment timed before stress conditions occur, advises Syngenta Technical Manager, Andy Cunningham. 

Weather forecasters are now predicting an upsurge of hot conditions from southern Europe at the end of June – peaking at over 28⁰C in some areas. The regional risks to root crop development on a field-by-field basis has been identified by the Quantis Heat Stress Tool, available in the Syngenta MyField app.

“Timing of applications ahead of initial temperature stress consistently gives the best results,” he advocates.

“With the extreme blight pressure experienced this season, the Quantis application is likely to coincide with a blight treatment at the same timing in potatoes, as well as a potential rust fungicide application in sugar beet.”  

Andy points out that most UK potato varieties are adapted to grow optimally at between 14⁰C and 22⁰C. Under those conditions they most efficiently photosynthesise light and CO2, to create sucrose that is translocated down to the tubers and converted into carbohydrate that gives yield.

“Where and when that heat stress and damage occurs in the crops’ life cycle will implicate the effects we see in the field in terms of yield.”

The UK’s largest ever biostimulant trial in potatoes identified that on 46 sites that experienced temperatures in excess of 25⁰C, yields increased by an average 2.35 t/ha with Quantis treatment, compared to the farm standard agronomy.  

In Lincolnshire sugar beet trials, the crop that received a Quantis treatment ahead of an initial heat stress event delivered an 18% yield increase (91 t/ha), compared to a farm standard of 78.4 t/ha. 

“The results demonstrated how plants affected by early heat stress struggle to recover to the same extent, even when they are offered protection from subsequent heat events,” Andy emphasised.

The sequence timing in the trial also indicated that the effects of Quantis treatment at 2.0 l/ha were lasting at least 14 days in protecting against the prolonged effects of repeated heat events.    

“When a plant is exposed to high temperatures and light levels, however, it goes into overdrive and cannot cope, which results in damaging stress.” 

“It’s natural defence mechanism, is to regulate protective responses to protect essential chloroplasts – but at a cost to photosynthetic activity,” he said.

“At best, the plants’ response is to shut down and stop photosynthesis. At worst it can lead to cell damage that may be unrecoverable and have more profound long-term effects, even when the stress has passed,” advised Andy.

The timing of a Quantis biostimulant application, prior to the stress period will provide an uplift in essential anti-oxidants to help plants better cope, he pointed out. 

“Both these functions help to maintain healthy cell function, to optimise photosynthesis in cells, so more energy is used in photosynthesis and more carbohydrate can be stored away in tubers as yield.”

Syngenta research at the University of Nottingham demonstrated how potato plants treated with Quantis were better able to reduce the effects of heat stress and maintain all important photosynthetic activity.

When the researchers took the plants to yield, the Quantis treatment produced a significant increase in tuber weight, along with a higher proportion of larger grade tubers.

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