Multi-factorial experiments on winter wheat cv. Hustler in autumn 1979 and 1980 sown on a clay loam soil following potatoes tested the effects of combinations of the following eight factors, each at two levels: sowing date; amount of nitrogen; division of nitrogen; timing of nitrogen; irrigation; autumn pesticide (aldicarb); summer aphicide (pirimicarb); and fungicide (carbendazim, tridemorph, maneb and captafol).
The mean grain yields of all plots in 1980 and 1981 were respectively 9·6 and 8·3 t/ha; the best eight-plot means were 11·2 and 9·9 t/ha. Fungicides had the largest effect on grain yield, increasing it by 0·8 and 1·7 t/ha in 1980 and 1981, mainly by increasing grain size. Effects were greater with earlier sowing and the larger amount of nitrogen. Benefits from fungicide were well related to the control of leaf diseases, mainly Septoria spp., which became severe after anthesis. Fungicide temporarily decreased the number of saprophytic fungi on the developing ears. Aphids that appeared in autumn on plots sown in mid-September were controlled by autumn pesticide, which also prevented the spread of barley yellow dwarf virus that occurred only in 1981. Consequently, yield of early-sown plots in 1981 was increased by autumn pesticide, but only when the severe infection with leaf diseases was controlled by fungicide. Autumn pesticide decreased nematode populations. Aphid populations in summer were small and yield was unaffected by the decrease in numbers that followed application of an aphicide.
Sowing on 20 or 15 September, as compared with 19 or 30 October, caused faster growth and development and greater uptake of N from the soil early in the season. Effects were smaller after April: earlier sowing increased total dry weight by 2·5–3·0 t/ha and, when leaf diseases and barley yellow dwarf virus were controlled, increased yield by 0·9-l·0t/ha. Increasing the amount of N applied by 70 kg/ha (from 105 or 80), increased yield only in 1980 and then only when fungicide was used. Extra N decreased yield in 1981 in the absence of fungicide. Extra N always increased N uptake and decreased grain size. Applying mostor all of the Non 4 or 19 March instead of 15 or 23 April resulted in less uptake of N from anthesis onwards and smaller yield, especially in 1980. N in three applications instead of one had negligible effect. Trickle irrigation decreased yield slightly, despite delaying leaf senescence and increasing straw weight. Attributes of wheat on best yielding plots differed little between years. Average values were: 534 ears/m2; 40·7 grains/ear; 40·4 mg/grain; 18·8 t/ha total dry matter and 214 kg N/ha uptake by grain plus straw.