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Fusarium covering ground across Western Canada

June 15, 2016 - Fusarium head blight (FHB) continues to prove a growing trend throughout Western Canada, plaguing cereal growers with the potential for serious losses in yield, quality and grade.

"Fusarium remains a cause for concern for cereal growers across Western Canada, causing reduced yields and grade quality," said Glen Forster, technical marketing specialist, fungicides, BASF Canada. "It can be a hard hit for many growers when it comes to their bottom lines."

Traditionally found in black soil zones, FHB can be spread through wind, rainsplash and infected grain and straw. It is also responsible for the development of mycotoxins, affecting the baking and milling quality of wheat, malting barley and livestock feed, and can affect human and animal health if it enters the food chain. Fusarium graminearum is only one of many species of the Fusarium disease, but considered one of the most important because of the impact that it has on yield and grain quality, and its ability to produce several toxins. In fact, a recent report by Alberta Agriculture and Food noted that Fusarium graminearum has cost Alberta producers between three and eight million dollars annually, due to reduced yields and downgrading caused by the disease.

According to a study recently released by the Canadian Grain Commission on the frequency and severity of Fusarium damaged kernels throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, from 2003 to 2015, the damage and severity of the disease shows a consistent increase.

Signs and symptoms of Fusarium infection include shrivelled, lightweight, white or pink "tombstone" kernels. To take preventative action against the disease, Forster recommends using a fungicide to provide a line of defence against FHB and protect cereal yield and grade quality.

"Caramba fungicide is designed specifically to help manage Fusarium in cereals," said Forster. "The fungicide helps reduce the impact of the disease and can help growers preserve quality and protect the yield potential of their cereal crop. However, growers need to be vigilant when it comes to timing of application, as it is critical to ensure disease protection and best return on investment."

For fungicide application, Forster recommends when 75 to 100 per cent of stem heads are fully emerged in wheat, oats and rye crops and when 20 to 50 per cent are flowering. On barley, he recommends immediately after head emergence up to three days after full emergence to be effective.

Martin Prince farms in Delmas, Saskatchewan and has noticed an emergence of FHB in his farming area the last couple of years.

"In the past, Fusarium hasn't been a factor in our farming area, but we did notice it in 2014, and our neighbours did witness some. We have been using fungicides for over 10 years on our farm and we believe that it does bring a benefit to our farm. It is an insurance policy. A heading timing of a fungicide like Caramba will prevent Fusarium."

For more information visit agsolutions.ca.