Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – June 4, 2019

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Wheat heads are close to emergence on some earlier varieties of winter wheat in southern and south-central Wisconsin. Within the next week wheat heads will be emerging and anthesis (flowering) will be starting, with later varieties to follow. Now is the time to prepare for Fusarium head blight (FHB or scab) management. The Fusarium head blight Risk Model (http://www.wheatscab.psu.edu) is showing moderate to high levels of risk in the primary wheat growing region of the state over the next 72 hours (Figure 1). Pay close attention to the risk model and your local weather as we approach anthesis (flowering). I anticipate the risk to remain high as periods of rain and humidity persist. Fungicide products of choice to control FHB in Wisconsin include Caramba, Prosaro, and Miravis Ace. Multiple years of data in Wisconsin suggest that the best application window for any of these products begins at the start of anthesis until 5-7 days after the start of anthesis. Applying fungicide before anthesis or more than 7-10 days after anthesis will result in poor performance against vomitoxin accumulation. For information pertaining to recent fungicide studies on winter wheat in Wisconsin, CLICK HERE and scroll to page 12. Other reports can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Figure 1. Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center 72-hour Outlook for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – May 31, 2019

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Field Crops Pathology crew has spent the last several days scouting winter wheat variety trials and commercial wheat fields in south and south-central Wisconsin. Wheat at all locations observed had flag leaves fully emerged. Weather has been extremely wet and cool across the state. Despite the wet conditions, wheat was generally disease free in all locations visited.

In Sharon, WI wheat looked decent despite challenging winter and spring conditions. The stand was a bit uneven in terms of growth stage, but most varieties looked good. It won’t be a record yield year, but stands look better than anticipated at this location. Wheat at the Arlington location in central Wisconsin looked very good with strong stands combined with even growth stages across varieties. I anticipate yields to be decent. At the Fond du Lac location wheat was in okay shape, however several varieties did experience significant winterkill. Stands were like those in Sharon, with uneven growth stages within varieties.

Figure 1. Fusarium head blight prediction for May 31, 2019

While disease on wheat has been relatively non-existent in Wisconsin, weather has been extremely wet across the state. Considering these conditions, we are worried about the risk for Fusarium head blight (FHB) this year given the weather pattern we have been stuck in. Currently, the Fusarium head blight Risk Model (http://www.wheatscab.psu.edu) is showing mostly high levels of risk in the primary wheat growing region of the state (Figure 1). While no heads have emerged, heading will begin in the next 1-2 weeks. Pay close attention to the risk model and your local weather as we approach anthesis (flowering). I anticipate the risk to remain high as periods of rain and humidity persist. Fungicide products of choice to control FHB in Wisconsin include Caramba, Prosaro, and Miravis Ace. Multiple years of data in Wisconsin suggest that the best application window for any of these products begins at the start of anthesis until 5-7 days after the start of anthesis. Applying fungicide before anthesis or more than 7-10 days after anthesis will result in poor performance against vomitoxin accumulation. For information pertaining to recent fungicide studies on winter wheat in Wisconsin, CLICK HERE and scroll to page 12. Other reports can be found by CLICKING HERE. Flag leaves are out, get out and scout!

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – May 21, 2019

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Figure 1. Septoria leaf blotch on wheat leaves

Winter wheat in Wisconsin continues to move through growth stages at a fairly even pace. Winter wheat plots in our research program located at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, Arlington, Wisconsin are just approaching the emerging flag leaf stage. Perhaps by the weekend or early next week, flag leaves will have emerged. Interestingly, this growth stage will likely occur almost at the same date as in 2018. Last season, we applied our Feekes 8 fungicide treatments on May 25th. So while it has been cool, and wheat appears to be moving through growth stages slowly, things aren’t too far off from 2018.

Weather remains very wet. Most wheat we have scouted this week appears to be clean of disease. One concern we have is the development of Septoria leaf blotch. In 2016 we had an early epidemic of this leaf disease, that impacted yield. The cool conditions are not particularly conducive for this disease, but the high humidity and wet conditions certainly are. Weather forecasts indicate warmer conditions over the next week, thus keep your eyes peeled for the development of the disease.

Figure 2. Pycnidia in a Septoria leaf blotch lesion.

Septoria leaf blotch can be identified by necrotic lesions that develop on leaves of winter wheat (Figure 1). Small fruiting structures (pycnidia) can often be identified inside the necrotic area of the lesions, with the naked eye or a good hand lens (Figure 2). Prolonged wet/humid conditions broken by a brief dry period, followed by more wet conditions, can favor infection. Temperatures between 60 and 77 F favor disease development. Septoria leaf blotch can be managed with varietal resistance (both race-specific and partial resistance) and also fungicides. For a list of effective fungicides for Septoria leaf blotch control, CLICK HERE to download a copy of the Small Grains Fungicide Efficacy Table. For more information pertaining to Septoria leaf blotch, and other related leaf blotch diseases, CLICK HERE to download a fact sheet.

Reports from the the mid south and plains states continue to indicate stripe rust is on the move. Continue to monitor and scout wheat as your crop moves into the flag leaf stage and to heading. If stripe rust moves in, a fungicide application may be warranted. As I indicated in my previous update, we did not have a stripe rust epidemic in 2018, in Wisconsin. Thus, there was no inoculum in the state to infect fall-sown wheat. Inoculum for an epidemic to initiate in 2019 will have to come from the southern U.S. The best way to make an educated decision to spray is to scout and catch the disease in its early stages. Continue to pay attention to extension reports as we track stripe rust from the southern U.S., northward.

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – May 6, 2019

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Figure 1. A winter wheat stand in Lancaster WI, May 2, 2019.

The Badger Crop Docs have been scouting winter wheat in southern and south-central portions of Wisconsin (Figures 1 and 2). Wheat is moving extremely slow. Growth stages are much behind compared to this time last season. I estimate that we are 2 weeks behind 2018. We have noted that stands are hit and miss from one field to the next in terms of quality of stand. It depends on when wheat was planted last fall and how much tillering was present before snowfall, coupled with the presence of ice under the snow over the winter. Overall things are starting to come around, but definitely a slow start to the spring in Wisconsin.

As for wheat diseases, things have been very quiet. This is good news! We did not have a stripe rust epidemic in 2018, in Wisconsin. Thus, there was no inoculum in the state to infect fall-sown wheat. So, the likelihood of any infection last fall is extremely low. This, coupled with extremely cold temperatures over the winter into 2019, mean that the odds of the stripe rust pathogen over-wintering is extremely low. The downside to this news is that stripe rust has been fairly active in the southern plains and deep south. Stripe rust reports are picking up in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. This could mean that inoculum might be transported into the state later this season. Critical times to keep track of this are around the time that the flag leaf emerges and then again at anthesis. These growth stages are typical to apply fungicides, but only if the conditions are right for disease development and scouting reports indicate the need.

Figure 2. A close-up of a winter wheat stand in Lancaster WI, May 2, 2019.

Fusarium head blight should also be on your radar. In 2018 we had a significant epidemic of Fusarium head blight (FHB or scab) that resulted in yield reductions and dockage at the elevator due to the production of vomitoxin by the fungus that causes FHB. We also had a significant amount of Gibberella ear rot which is caused by the same fungus that causes FHB in wheat. Thus, there is a significant amount of inoculum present in Wisconsin in 2019. We need to pay attention to the weather and what the FHB prediction model is telling us in terms of risk as we approach anthesis, later in the season.

Overall, winter wheat is not showing any disease issues right now. But continue to scout and track weather as we move through the season. Things can change rapidly and we will need to make some in-season disease management decisions as we move forward in 2019.

Don’t lose your head over Fusarium head blight: What to do as you prepare for wheat harvest

Damon L. Smith, Extension Field Crops Pathologist, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Shawn P. Conley, Extension Soybean and Small Grains Agronomist, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Figure 1. FHB on some wheat heads. Note the bleached and reddened appearance of infected kernels.

Fusarium head blight (FHB) or scab has been observed in some Wisconsin winter wheat fields this season. Incidence and severity have been variable this season, based on location and susceptibility of the wheat variety. Generally, we have observed more FHB in the southern wheat growing areas of the state, with less FHB as we moved north and east. Visit my previous post for a full report. It is important to scout your maturing wheat crop and consider how much damage from FHB might be in a field as you prepare for harvest. While FHB can cause direct yield loss, the fungus that causes this disease can also produce deoxynivalenol (also known as DON or vomitoxin). Assessing wheat fields now can assist you in determining how much vomitoxin might be expected at harvest. However, it is possible to find high levels of vomitoxin in finished grain, even if FHB levels where low.

Figure 2. Bleached heads caused by Fusarium head blight of winter wheat

What does scab look like? Diseased spikelets on an infected grain head die and bleach prematurely (Fig. 2).  Healthy spikelets on the same head retain their normal green color.  Over time, premature bleaching of spikelets may progress throughout the entire grain head.  If infections occur on the stem immediately below the head, the entire head may die.  As symptoms progress, developing grains are colonized causing them to shrink and wrinkle.  Often, infected kernels have a rough, sunken appearance, and range in color from pink or soft gray, to light brown. As wheat dries down, visual inspection of heads for scab will become more difficult.

Why is identifying scab important? Scab identification is important, not only because it reduces yield, but also because it reduces the quality and feeding value of grain.  In addition, the FHB fungus may produce mycotoxins, including DON or vomitoxin, that when ingested, can adversely affect livestock and human health.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set maximum allowable levels of DON in feed for various animal systems, these are as follows: beef and feedlot cattle and poultry < 10ppm; Swine and all other animals < 5ppm.

What should I do to prepare for wheat harvest?

  1. Scout your fields now to assess risk. Wheat is maturing rapidly. As maturity progresses it will be increasingly difficult to assess the incidence and severity of the infection. Understanding a field’s risk will help growers either field blend or avoid highly infected areas so entire loads are not rejected.
  2. DO NOT spray fungicide now. Research has demonstrated that the window of opportunity to manage FHB with fungicides is at the beginning of anthesis and only lasts about 7 days. Applications later than 7 days after the start of anthesis are not effective in controlling FHB. In addition, most fungicide labels do not allow a pre-harvest interval (PHI) suitable for a late application on wheat. Any application now would be off-label.
  3. Adjust combine settings to blow out lighter seeds and chaff. Salgado et al. 2011 indicated that adjusting a combine’s fan speed between 1,375 and 1,475 rpms and shutter opening to 90 mm (3.5 inches) resulted in the lowest discounts that would have been received at the elevator due to low test weight, % damaged kernels, and level of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON; vomitoxin) present in the harvested grain.
  4. Know your elevators inspection and dockage procedure (each elevator can have a different procedure).
  5. Scabby kernels does not necessarily mean high DON levels and vice versa. For example, in a 2014 fungicide evaluation very low visible levels of FHB were observed for all treatments. However, when the finished grain was tested for DON, significant levels were identified for all treatments. Be sure to test and know what levels of DON are in your grain even if you didn’t see a high level of visible disease. Also, don’t assume that because a fungicide was used, there will be no DON.
  6. DON can be present in the straw so there is concern regarding feeding or using scab infected wheat straw.  DO NOT use straw for bedding or feed from fields with high levels of scab (Cowger and Arellano, 2013). If in doubt, have the straw tested for DON levels.
  7. Do not save seed from a scab-infected field. Fusarium graminearum can be transmitted via seed. Infected seeds will have decreased growth and tillering capacity as well as increased risk for winterkill.
  8. Do not store grain from fields with high levels of scab.  DON and other mycotoxins can continue to increase in stored grain.
  9. Harvest in a timely fashion to minimize elevator discounts and balance dockage due to FHB. Click here to read about some recent research on optimizing harvest timing in winter wheat.
  10. For more information on Fusarium head blight click here.

References

  1. Cowger, C., and Arellano, C. 2013. Fusarium graminearum infection and deoxynivalenol concentrations during development of wheat spikes. Phytopathology 103:460-471.
  2. Salgado, J. D., Wallhead, M., Madden, L. V., and Paul, P. A. 2011. Grain harvesting strategies to minimize grain quality losses due to Fusarium head blight in wheat. Plant Dis. 95:1448-1457.

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – June 26, 2018

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Figure 1. Fusarium head blight of winter wheat

The Wisconsin Field Crops Pathology crew has scouted and rated all winter wheat variety trials across the wheat-growing region of the state. We have also looked at commercial fields for disease in the region. In general leaf diseases will be of minimal impact this season. We have observed a little Septoria leaf blotch in some fields in the lower canopy. However, this pathogen will not limit yield this season, as it has not reached the flag leaf yet. We have also not observed any stripe rust this season. As I mentioned in previous posts, the winter was cold enough with minimal snow cover, which didn’t allow the stripe rust pathogen to overwinter in the region. Subsequent spread from the southern states north, was also not fast enough to reach the crop in Wisconsin to impact yield. If stripe rust does arrive this season, it will not impact yield. Leaf rust was observed at the Arlington (south-central Wisconsin) location. However, it was at very low incidence and severity and will likely not impact yield on most varieties in the state.

Figure 2. Fusarium head blight index of winter wheat in small plots where fungicide programs were used in 2014.

Fusarium head blight (FHB; scab) has been observed at all locations visited. Incidence and severity is highly variable based on location. At the Sharon (southern Wisconsin) and Arlington locations, FHB could be found in some plots at incidence levels as high as 50% with 50% severity. Many plots had low levels of FHB, thus the average levels at these locations was around 10% incidence with severity levels of around 20%. As we moved north and east in Wisconsin, FHB was at much lower incidence and severity levels. Incidence averaged 5%-10% with severity around 15% at the Chilton and Fond du Lac locations. Commercial fields that we have scouted in these regions fall within these same averages.

Figure 3. Vomitoxin levels of finished grain from winter wheat small plots where fungicide programs were used in 2014.

While I don’t think the FHB epidemic in 2018 will be as bad as 2015, I think it is important to scout fields and understand the levels of FHB present. It will also be important to test finished grain for vomitoxin or DON. Often, the level of visible FHB damage does not reflect the vomitoxin levels of harvested grain. This happened in some fields in 2014, including a research trial that we had at the Arlington location. FHB index levels on heads in the field were very low across all treatments in our research trials that year (Fig. 2). However, when the finished grain was tested for vomitoxin, levels were quite high (Fig. 3). There are a number of factors that can contribute to this phenomenon, including time of infection, varieties, weather, and treatment. The point is, be sure this doesn’t happen to you. Scout AND have finished grain tested so you aren’t surprised at the elevator!

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – June 6, 2018

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Wisconsin Field Crops Pathology Team has been busy scouting and rating diseases of winter wheat this past week across the major wheat growing region of the state. To be honest, it has been pretty boring for our group. We have seen virtually no disease in uniform variety trials or in production fields. This is good news for farmers, for sure.

We have not yet confirmed any stripe rust infections in the state of Wisconsin, this season. Reports from farmers and consultants are also consistent with our observations. This is a considerable change from last season, when we found our first stripe rust pustules at the end of March. This early epidemic in 2017 resulted in some considerable yield loss from stripe rust on winter wheat. Definitely not the case this season. We have also seen extremely low levels of Septoria leaf blotch in the lower portions of the canopy on some varieties. Cool dry weather is preventing this disease from really moving up the canopy. No other foliar diseases have been confirmed on winter wheat this season.

As for the Fusarium head blight (FHB; scab) situation, risk as calculated by the Fusarium Risk Tool, has dissipated over the past week. Two weeks ago, risk of FHB had been estimated to be high on susceptible cultivars. However, cool dry weather has driven the risk to low levels across much of the major wheat production area of Wisconsin. Risk is high still along the Lake Michigan shore and up into Door County. Also elevated and high risk are estimated in Northwest Wisconsin on susceptible cultivars. The situation should be monitored closely in these areas on any crop heading into anthesis. Most of the wheat we have looked at across the southern, south-central, and north-eastern wheat production area of the state is through anthesis or will be by the end of the week. The FHB risk is forecast to be low through this period, in these areas. We will begin scouting for FHB damage in the next week or so, but we anticipate FHB to be mostly low in many areas, with some isolated pockets of higher levels.

It is important to continue scouting over the next couple of weeks. We are transitioning away form making fungicide spray decisions, but it is important to determine the level of FHB present in a particular field, so that proper harvest preparations can be made. We will continue to update you on what we find over the next couple of weeks. However, this is the lowest level of disease on winter wheat I have seen since I have been in Wisconsin. Scout, Scout, Scout!

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – May 30, 2018

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Warm weather last week, which continued into this week, has pushed the winter wheat crop in Wisconsin toward heading. Most varieties planted in the southern or south-central region of Wisconsin are heading, with full emergence and anthesis (flowering) beginning by the end of the week. We suspect that winter wheat in the northern and northeastern portions of the Wisconsin wheat belt to not be far behind.

Now is the time to consider your Fusarium head blight (FHB; scab) management strategy. Weather late last week had driven the FHB risk on the Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center to a high level for susceptible varieties. Extremely hot and dry weather has forced the risk back to “low” today. However, 72 hour forecasts show risk increasing to medium in much of the wheat belt with high risk in isolated pockets on susceptible varieties (see figure). Rain today, with continued humidity and temperatures in the 80s F for the rest of the week, will keep risk elevated. Areas near the Lake Michigan shore will likely be at high risk.

A fungicide may be needed especially on susceptible cultivars to control FHB and reduce DON (vomitoxin) contamination. The fungicides Prosaro or Caramba have both performed well on FHB in Wisconsin. Timing of application of these products is critical. I would urge you to wait until anthesis has begun in your field before applying. We have observed poor control where application of these effective fungicides were made before anthesis. In fact, we have observed improved control of FHB and lower levels of DON in finished grain where fungicide application was delayed 4-5 days after the beginning of anthesis, compared to applications at the start of anthesis. Data from a fungicide efficacy trial to support this observation can be found by clicking here and scrolling down to pages 16 and 17. Also, remember that application of fungicides should be made no later than 6-7 days after the start of anthesis. After this time, fungicide efficacy on FHB and DON control is much reduced.

Get out there and SCOUT, SCOUT, SCOUT and monitor the FHB Prediction Center!

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – May 24, 2018

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The heavy moisture we have received over the last week, combined with high temperatures in the low-to-mid 80s F this week have pushed winter wheat growth stages. We have seen rapid stem elongation with flag leaves emerging in some fields in the southern and south central regions of Wisconsin. We continue to find wheat with little foliar disease. However, we are entering a critical time to make our first important fungicide decision related to protecting emerging flag leaves from foliar disease. Continue to scout. Weather has been conducive for some foliar diseases. However, wheat continues to remain “clean” then hold your fungicide application until anthesis.

Given the heat this week, I suspect that heads will be emerging for some varieties in the southern region over the next week or so, with anthesis to closely follow. The decision to apply fungicide will be critical at this time. Considering the wet weather and warm temperatures the “pump is primed” for Fusarium head blight (FHB; scab). The Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center currently has the FHB risk at medium to high in the south, south-central and eastern portions of the wheat belt (See Figure). This situation needs to be monitored closely over the next couple of weeks as fields enter the anthesis growth stage. The weather outlook appears to be very humid, wet, and warm, which will only increase the risk of FHB.

A fungicide may be needed especially on susceptible cultivars to control FHB and reduce DON (vomitoxin) contamination. The fungicides Prosaro or Caramba have both performed well on FHB in Wisconsin. Timing of application of these products is critical. I would urge you to wait until anthesis has begun in your field before applying. We have observed poor control where application of these effective fungicides were made before anthesis. In fact, we have observed improved control of FHB and lower levels of DON in finished grain where fungicide application was delayed 4-5 days after the beginning of anthesis, compared to applications at the start of anthesis. Data from a fungicide efficacy trial to support this observation can be found by clicking here and scrolling down to pages 16 and 17. Also, remember that application of fungicides should be made no later than 6-7 days after the start of anthesis. After this time, fungicide efficacy on FHB and DON control is much reduced.

Get out there and SCOUT, SCOUT, SCOUT and monitor the FHB Prediction Center!

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – May 21, 2018

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Winter wheat in the Uniform Variety Trial located in Sharon, Wisconsin in 2018

The Wisconsin Field Crops Pathology scouted winter wheat in the uniform variety trials located in Sharon and Arlington, Wisconsin late last week. The crop was jointing at both locations. The crop looks very good. We found no disease at either location. At this time last year we already had a significant epidemic of rust started across southern Wisconsin. Thus, the winter wheat crop is looking much better than this time last year, when it comes to the disease situation. We also took a quick look at a couple of production fields in the area and those also appear to be clean. We have also received some reports of wheat conditions around the Fond du Lac area. Wheat is reported to look very good there as well with no disease. We will try to also scout uniform variety trials in those locations in the next few days.

Despite good news, weather has been conducive for the development of foliar disease the last few days. I would encourage folks to be diligent in scouting. I would expect flag leaf emergence in the next 1-2 weeks across the winter wheat growing region of the state. We will be entering a very important time to make a decision about your first fungicide application. Considering the current agricultural economy, the decision to spray fungicide is going to be critical to try to break even this year. I would hold off as close to the anthesis growth stage to “pull the trigger” as you can wait. This will help maximize fungicide use to control both of the major diseases of wheat that we see in Wisconsin, stripe rust and Fusarium head blight (FHB; scab). However, if stripe rust shows up after flag leaf emergence, it might be necessary to apply a fungicide before anthesis to control a rust epidemic, especially on susceptible varieties. Based on previous research conducted by our laboratory in Wisconsin, we know that an application of fungicide that closely coincides with the start of the rust epidemic can be very effective in preserving yield on susceptible and moderate susceptible varieties. Many fungicides are effective in controlling stripe rust, including the industry leaders used for FHB control, Prosaro and Caramba. Therefore, if rust doesn’t show up in your field before anthesis occurs, you can effectively use Prosaro and Caramba to control both FHB and a late stripe rust epidemic. The best case scenario would be to only have to spray fungicide once this season. However, there is still much time left, so diligent scouting is critical to make the best decision. Get out there and SCOUT, SCOUT, SCOUT!