Fusarium Head Blight Research Continues At EARC


Durum with scab. (Photo submitted)

Dr. Frankie Crutcher, MSU-EARC's plant pathologist will discuss fusarium head blight (FHB) resistant variety development and fungicide treatments for disease management at the EARC Field Day, July 12 at 9 a.m.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), FHB is one of the most devastating plant diseases in the world. The USDA ranks FHB as the worst plant disease to hit the U.S. since the rust epidemics in the 1950s. Since 1990, U.S. barley and wheat growers have lost over $3 billion due to FHB epidemics. Canada has also experienced severe losses since 1990.

Researchers are working hard to combat FHB, with resistant variety developments and fungicide treatments.

Several studies conducted have demonstrated the importance of genetic resistance to FHB (scab). Durum lacks the level of resistance that can be found in the resistant hard red spring wheat varieties available, but there still are some varieties that accumulate less DON when exposed to scab. Although varietal resistance does not provide complete protection against disease or DON due to scab, combining resistance with fungicides can achieve much better control.

When it comes to FHB, fungicide timing is critical. Application when 50% of the heads on the main stem are at early flowering or 4-7 days after this stage will provide the best suppression of both symptoms and DON in the harvested grain.

A few years ago, Crutcher concluded a three-year study across multiple locations to evaluate the effect of planting date on suppression of scab in durum. This project was part of Taheni Jbir's graduate thesis (NDSU Plant Pathology master's student). Dr. Audrey Kalil (WREC agronomist) and John Rickertsen (Hettinger REC agronomist) collaborated with the study as well.

If growers deal a lot with scab, researchers suggest using an integrated management approach. Crop rotation, variety resistance and fungicide use when weather is conducive to disease. It is best to monitor weather conditions in the two weeks prior to flowering and in the week after the onset of flowering if a grower wants to delay the fungicide application slightly.

If growers have questions regarding management of disease, they are encouraged to reach out to their local research center agronomists.

At the EARC Field Day, Crutcher will also be discussing disease management in cover crop systems and present a cover crop study and intercropping project with Marie Dorval and Yi Zhou, MSU-EARC graduate students. They will also discuss their research on Ascochyta blight control by intercropping chickpea with flax.

To hear more from professors and assistant professors like Dr. Frankie Crutcher, you can attend the EARC/MSU Field Day on Wednesday, July 12 in Sidney.


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