Research results from the 2011 Fusarium head blight evaluations are now available on the University of Illinois Variety Testing website for growers to consider when choosing wheat varieties this fall.
"Fusarium head blight, or scab, is one of the greatest threats to Illinois wheat producers," says Carl Bradley, University of Illinois Extension plant pathologist. "In addition to causing yield reductions and poor test weights, the fungus that causes the disease (Fusarium graminearum) can produce chemicals known as mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON) that contaminate grain."
Mycotoxins such as DON can be a serious problem for producers and millers because of limitations on the amount of DON that is allowable in food and livestock feed. In some severe cases, harvested grain contaminated with high levels of DON may be rejected for sale.
The most effective way to manage scab and DON is through integrating different management practices, Bradley adds.
U of I studies have shown that the best combination of practices for managing scab and DON is the combination of sowing wheat into fields previously cropped to soybean (rather than corn); planting the most scab-resistant varieties available; and spraying a fungicide when the crop begins to flower (if needed, based on the presence of weather favorable for scab).
"Growing the most scab-resistant varieties available may be the most important scab management decision," says Fred Kolb, U of I small grains breeder and professor in the Department of Crop Sciences. "For the past several years, our research program has screened wheat varieties for their level of scab resistance in the field. We evaluate these varieties in a mist-irrigated field nursery that has uniform high levels of scab."
Research results are available at http://vt.cropsci.illinois.edu/wheat under the "small grains" section.
"Using these results to choose the most scab-resistant varieties available for planting this fall will help provide the best foundation for scab management for the 2011-12 wheat-growing season," Kolb adds.
Scab research at the University of Illinois is supported by the U. S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI). For more information about USWBSI, visit www.scabusa.org.
For more information on disease and pest management and crop production, visit the Bulletin at bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu.