Five-hundred or so 5-foot, single row plots of wheat, including material from Michigan and several other states, were planted. Seed was received and planted in the last week of September – very late for the Upper Peninsula – but a mild, warm fall season allowed the plants to get a good start before winter set in.
A border of five rows of an old winter wheat variety very susceptible to stem rust was planted around the perimeter of the plot area and inoculated with a common stem rust pathogen the following spring. The single row plots were exposed to the disease as it developed in the border. Virtually all commercial varieties of winter wheat have genetic resistance to the particular stem rust race used as inoculum, so an outbreak of wheat stem rust originating from the screening nursery was not a concern.
On July 11, 2012, Jin visited Chatham, to evaluate the results of this effort. He was pleased with the success of the disease establishment in the plots, and especially pleased with the performance of the wheat lines from around the eastern United States. He spent a few hours evaluating the plot; in-depth data collection was not needed since these same lines are all in the main trial location in Minnesota.
Jin's assessment of the trial plot at Chatham was favorable. The wheat plots were disked into the soil following Jin's visit. However, being an atypical year due to low snow cover, additional tests are necessary to determine the suitability of the site. The project was continued for the 2012-2013 winter season. Plots are in-ground currently.
Stem rust of wheat is only one of many potential wheat disease problems in Michigan. For a good overview of wheat disease identification, check out the "Wheat Disease Identification
" publication developed by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Pest Management program