We spoke with Dr. Andrew Friskop, Extension Plant Pathologist of North Dakota State University (NDSU), to discuss late-season threats and essential steps to prep for a successful wheat harvest. Dr. Andrew Friskop is a native of North Dakota and is responsible for cereals disease management at NDSU.
What late-season disease pressure should you monitor?
There are several late-season diseases that can be noticed throughout the heading to kernel filling stages of wheat. Two late-season diseases that can result in discounts at the point of sale are ergot and Fusarium head blight.
Ergot bodies are hardened masses of mycelia that harbor strong alkaloids that are toxic if consumed by humans and animals. If a high level of ergot is observed in a field, try to keep this seed lot separate from sound seed lots. Cleaning can help remove ergot bodies in a seed lot.
Fusarium head blight can result in yield and quality losses. Management of Fusarium head blight is best accomplished using an integrated approach with cultural practices, varietal resistance and a timely fungicide at early flowering. However, there is no silver bullet in a bad scab year, and it is important to monitor fields that have a noticeable amount of premature bleaching and shriveled kernels.
How can growers stop the spread of DON?
Try to keep scabby seed lots separate from sound seed lots. Cleaning can help reduce the number of scabby kernels and potentially reduce DON/VOM levels. However, if the scab fungus infects late in the season, kernels may appear symptomless and still harbor DON, thus reducing the effectiveness of cleaning. When deciding to clean a scabby seed lot, the best success in reducing DON/VOM levels will be in seed lots with a high amount of scabby kernels.
What are the risks of applying a fungicide late in the season? Does the benefit outweigh the risk?
Fungicides applied during flowering can provide late-season protection of the flag leaf. This, in turn, can potentially delay the wheat plant from naturally senescing. However, the benefit of a flowering application will often outweigh this risk.
Bayer would like to remind you that late-season diseases can hurt your yield and grain quality. Fusarium head blight, also known as scab, can infect a field in the late season, but you can ward off Fusarium head blight with timely fungicide application. Prosaro® fungicide fights and controls scab, which can lead to increased levels of DON, yield loss and low grain fill. Spraying, cleaning and scouting continuously throughout the season will help your crop defend against diseases such as ergot and Fusarium head blight.