Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – June 30, 2017

Stripe rust in a “striped pattern” on winter wheat leaves.

Damon Smith, Extension Field Crops Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Brian Mueller, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Wisconsin Field Crops Pathology team has nearly finished all of our assessments of wheat and wheat disease for the year in Wisconsin. Winter wheat is well on its way to maturing. The few spring wheat acres we have seen have mostly completed anthesis throughout much of the state, with just a few late-planted locations still completing anthesis.

Overall, the spring 2017 wheat season can be defined mostly by the widespread presence of stripe rust. We have been in fields where stripe rust has caused significant widespread damage on susceptible varieties that were not treated with fungicides. We have also observed fields that either had a resistant variety, received a fungicide application, or both. These fields appear to be doing quite well and the crop will yield well. Clearly areas where we suspect that there was overwintering of the stripe rust pathogen, saw the occurrence of the epidemic very early, resulting in quick spread of stripe rust this season. We have completed rating of stripe rust in the wheat variety trials in Wisconsin and these data will be published later this year in the variety performance report. I would encourage you to study these results carefully and choose varieties that performed well in your area and had low levels of stripe rust. This is the second year in a row that we have had a substantial stripe rust epidemic and choosing resistant varieties is a cheap method of stripe rust management.

We have also been looking for Fusarium head blight (FHB or scab) in commercial fields and variety trials. For a second year in a row, FHB incidence and severity is extremely low statewide. In many fields we struggle to find even one symptomatic head. Fusarium head blight incidence in the far southwest part of the state is nearly undetectable and approaches about 1% incidence in fields in the north-central and northeastern portions of the state. I expect that DON (vomitoxin) levels will be relatively low in finished grain in Wisconsin, this season. The low level os FHB in winter wheat this season is likely due to the unseasonably hot, dry weather we had in early June, which coincided with anthesis in many wheat fields. This type of weather is not conducive for the fungus and likely resulted in very few successful infection events.

Other diseases have been extremely hard to find. We have seen some fields with low levels of Septoria/Stagonospora, but in general these epidemics will not limit yield to a significant extent. Powdery mildew can be found infrequently on a few plants in some fields. In the southern portion of the state, we were able to find some leaf rust just this week. The arrival of leaf rust is likely too late to affect yield this season. We have not observed any stem rust in our scouting trips to commercial fields or in variety trials.