Weather key in treating wheat diseases |

Weather key in treating wheat diseases

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. – Producers should check the weather forecast before deciding on treatment for fungal diseases of wheat, said a University of Nebraska-Lincoln specialist.

Wet weather promotes the growth of these diseases, said Stephen Wegulo, extension plant pathologist. When producers see symptoms of disease and wet weather is forecast, they should consider treating the crop. Fungicides work best when applied preventively, he said, so it’s best not to wait until it spreads.

In Nebraska, the only bacterial disease that attacks wheat is black chaff, Wegulo said. It causes blight on leaves and it blackens the heads. Conditions promoting black chaff are very similar to those spreading fungal disease, but control measures are very different.

Some control measures take place before planting. Since the disease is seed-transmitted, producers should plant disease-free seed and avoid varieties that are susceptible. Managing irrigation can keep the disease under control as well when producers allow foliage to dry between irrigations. Black chaff likes wet conditions, so allowing the foliage to dry discourages its growth.

Wegulo said that wheat streak mosaic has appeared throughout the state in recent years. The wheat curl mite transmits this disease when it gets into the fall crop. Since the mite survives in volunteer wheat and then moves into the new fall crop, producers can control it by killing all volunteer wheat.

“Make sure the volunteer wheat is dead at least two week before planting,” he said.

For more about scouting diseases in wheat, with photos of disease organisms and damaged wheat, go to “Managing Wheat Diseases for Higher Yields” is an online pdf file you can print and read at your leisure.

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