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Spring conditions cause concern for fusarium in wheat

Ridgetown Campus researcher Dr. Art Shaafsma is concerned that the March, April and May weather records may be of concern to the Ontario wheat crop. However, the weather conditions at the time of wheat heading and flowering are the most critical.


May 27, 2008
By University of Guelph- Ridgetown AgriLink Scoops

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May 26, 2008

Ridgetown Campus researcher and fusarium guru, Dr. Art
Schaafsma, is concerned about the
Ontario wheat crop.
“I have been watching the March, April and May weather records and I have seen
more blackened corn stalks out there than ever before…spooky like 1996”,
reported Dr. Schaafsma.

"The significance is these blackened corn stalks
are full of overwintering fungal bodies that release spores which are blown
across fields potentially causing Fusarium Head Blight in wheat," he
continued.

Dr. Schaafsma pointed out that the amount of initial
disease or spores is only part of the story. The weather conditions around the
time of wheat heading and flowering are the most critical to whether or not
these spores are able to infect the crop and cause disease. Losses show up at
harvest in reduced yield, plus grain contaminated with potentially unacceptable
toxin levels, resulting in lost marketing opportunities.

Dr. Schaafsma points out that growers should sign up for
Site-Specific DONcast at www.weatherinnovations.com. He is recommending
producers enter a few important agronomic characteristics such as wheat
variety, crop rotation history and tillage practices which should pay off in a
quick verification of the potential toxin levels (also referred to as DON levels)
in wheat fields this year.

He says this is a free service sponsored by the Ontario
Wheat Producers Marketing Board and Bayer Crop Science. "This is
definitely a year to be prepared by using the tools available. Growers should
not leave plans to order and apply Fusarium fungicides to the last minute.
Heading will start within a week or two depending where you are in
Ontario. The acreage
of wheat, the demand for these products and the demand for application
equipment will be at its highest ever," concludes Schaafsma.