Strategies Recommended for Reducing Risk of Fusarium Head Blight in Winter Wheat

Sep 16, 2014

A winter wheat breeder with the University of Manitoba recommends the selection of fusarium resistant varieties combined with good agronomic practices to reduce the risk of fusarium head blight.

As the result of high moisture and high humidity during flowering, winter wheat crops in southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan have been hit hard this year by fusarium head blight.

Dr. Anita Brûlé-Babel, a winter wheat breeder with the University of Manitoba, notes in addition to lowering yields fusarium produces a toxin that dramatically impacts the marketability of the grain.

Dr. Anita Brûlé-Babel-University of Manitoba:
We have some varieties that have better levels of resistance and some of them that have been around a long time.

For instance CDC Buteo has been rated pretty consistently in our trials as a moderately resistant so it will have quite a bit better fusarium tolerance than, for instance, something like CDC Falcon which is quite susceptible.

More recently we've had the introduction of Emerson from the Lethbridge Research Centre's program and Emerson is rating a resistant to moderately resistant as well.

In the trials that we've been doing with Emerson that resistance seems to be holding out quite well even under heavy inoculation pressure.
With any of these though we have to remember that resistance is not the same as what we would often think about with, for instance, some of the rusts which are other diseases of wheat.

Even with moderately resistant or resistant we still will see some levels of fusarium under high epidemic conditions so the recommendation that I have with producers is use more of the tool box which is not just the cultivar.

Watch your weather forecasts and your disease forecasting to determine whether fungicides might be a useful option for you and follow appropriate crop rotation.

Dr. Brûlé-Babel notes in fungicide trials the combination of better resistance and fungicides seems to improve your outcome much more than using susceptible varieties with fungicides.

Source: Farmscape

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