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Fusarium head blight mapping tool available to Prairie farmers

May 15, 2024  By Sask Wheat


 New Prairie-wide Fusarium head blight (FHB) risk maps are now available to producers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The tool provides assessment of Fusarium Head Blight Index (FHBi), Fusarium-damaged kernels (FDK), and Deoxynivalenol (DON) risk levels in spring wheat, winter wheat, barley and durum, based on weather conditions.

These risk maps were created as part of a three-year research project led by the University of Manitoba’s Dr. Paul Bullock, with collaborators from Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Manitoba Agriculture, Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA), Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat), Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission (SaskBarley) and Alberta Grains, according to a press release from Sask Wheat.

The weather-based risk is calculated using real-time weather data from more than 500 stations operated by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Manitoba AgWeather Program, Saskatchewan Public Safety, Alberta Climate Information System and Metos Canada. The risk algorithms are “homegrown” based on research data collected from 600 plot sites across 15 locations in Western Canada each year from 2019 through 2021 and tested in more than 300 producer fields on the Prairies during the same period. Previous FHB risk maps utilized imported FHB risk algorithms with limited accuracy testing and could not assess risk in barley or durum, nor for either FDK or DON. The risk mapping tool is publicly available and accessible using a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

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The risk for disease severity varies considerably by location and year because of variable weather during the lead-up period prior to flowering. The tool has both financial and environmental benefits, since the need to apply fungicide for disease control at a given location also varies from one extreme to the other.

“This risk map, in conjunction with daily field monitoring, will help producers identify the level of risk for FHB infection and determine if a management strategy, such as an application of a fungicide, is warranted,” said Blair Goldade, executive director of Sask Wheat, in the press release.

The project was funded through the Integrated Crop Agronomy Cluster with funding from the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Western Grains Research Foundation, MCA, Sask Wheat, Alberta Grains, Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute and Prairie Oat Growers Association. The FHB risk mapping tool is available at prairiefhb.ca.

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