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 – 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.

 

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – June 2, 2017

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

Figure 1. Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center Risk Map – June 2, 2017

Many winter wheat varieties in Wisconsin are headed out and at, or will be at, anthesis (flowering) this weekend. Currently, the Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center is ranking much of the primary winter wheat growing area of Wisconsin at medium risk with many pockets of high risk for FHB on susceptible varieties (Fig. 1). Warm temperatures and the threat of rain this weekend will make conditions further favorable for FHB. In addition, stripe rust is quickly increasing in many fields on susceptible varieties. I have observed 20% stripe rust severity on flag leaves in several fields with high incidence across those fields.

The primary fungicides for control of FHB are Caramba and Prosaro. These same products are rated as “excellent” on stripe rust. I would urge you to verify anthesis has begun in your field before applying either product. We have observed poor control of FHB where application of these effective fungicides was 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. 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 is much reduced. Finally, DO NOT use any fungicide products that contain a strobilurin fungicide after the “boot” stage in wheat. Some studies have demonstrated that using strobilurin fungicides at, or after heading, can result in increased vomitoxin (DON) levels in finished grain. Get out there and SCOUT, SCOUT, SCOUT!

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – May 28, 2017

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

Figure 1. Severe stripe rust on winter wheat prior to head emergence.

The Wisconsin Field Crops Pathology crew spent some time this past week scouting wheat and rating wheat variety trial plots, between planting soybeans and dodging rain storms. Despite the challenging week, the crew was able to get around to several sites and take a look at winter wheat. Wheat ranges from fully emerged flag leaf to emerging heads across the sites visited. As predicted, stripe rust is progressing to epidemic levels on susceptible and moderately susceptible varieties (Fig. 1). We were able to find many plots with stripe rust on the L2 leaf (leaf immediately below the flag leaf) with some varieties already showing 20% or more severity on flag leaves (Fig. 2). We were also able to find many varieties still showing no symptoms of stripe rust. We also have had several reports of disease-free winter wheat across the state. Further inquiry suggests that many did their homework last summer and fall, and chose varieties with excellent stripe rust resistance. This will more than pay for itself this season in fungicide spray savings.

Figure 2. Stripe rust on a flag leaf of winter wheat.

We are quickly approaching head emergence and anthesis on many varieties in the state of Wisconsin. I predict that anthesis (flowering) will take place within the next week or so in Wisconsin. Farmers should focus on making a decision on fungicide application to control Fusarium head blight (FHB or scab). At this point, I think farmers should hold off on a fungicide application specifically for stripe rust. The major focus for fungicide application on winter wheat in Wisconsin should shift to managing FHB. With this said, the two primary products that have performed well in Wisconsin for FHB, also perform well on stripe rust and are ranked excellent in the Small Grains Fungicide Efficacy Table. This means that spraying for FHB will also control stripe rust, as long as the stripe rust epidemic has not advanced to high levels on the flag leaves. Currently, the Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center is ranking much of the primary winter wheat growing area of Wisconsin at medium-to-high risk for FHB on susceptible varieties (Fig. 3). Plenty of rain and adequate temperatures are making conditions ripe for FHB in the major wheat production area of the state.

Figure 3. Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center Risk Map – May 28, 2017

The next 7-10 days poses a critical time to make a decision for fungicide application to control FHB and stripe rust. The primary fungicides for control of FHB are Caramba and Prosaro. I would urge you to wait until anthesis has begun in your field before applying. We have observed poor control of FHB where application of these effective fungicides was 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 is much reduced. Finally, DO NOT use any fungicide products that contain a strobilurin fungicide after the “boot” stage in wheat. Some studies have demonstrated that using strobilurin fungicides at, or after heading, can result in increased vomitoxin (DON) levels in finished grain. Get out there and SCOUT, SCOUT, SCOUT!

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – June 29

Damon L. Smith, Extension Field Crops Pathologist, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Brian D. Mueller, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Winter Wheat Grown in Wisconsin

Winter Wheat Grown in Wisconsin

This will likely be the last winter wheat disease update for 2016, as the University of Wisconsin Field Crops Pathology team has nearly finished winter wheat disease ratings for 2016. In our travels this season we have determined that the major disease of concern was stripe rust. We were able to find stripe rust in every field we visited this season. In the variety trials throughout the state, stripe rust hit some varieties very hard, causing significant damage and early defoliation. Other varieties did fair well, so genetic resistance was obviously a big player for us this season. In production fields that did not receive an application of fungicide, stripe rust was often moderate to severe. Fields with resistant varieties and/or that received a well-timed fungicide had low levels of stripe rust and will yield well.

Unlike 2015, Fusarium head blight (FHB or scab) has been relatively minimal. In the southern and eastern wheat production areas of the state we could find some low levels of FHB, however, severity is fairly minimal. This is likely due to the fact that the weather was very hot and mostly dry during the anthesis period in this part of the state. Further to the north and closer to Lake Michigan, we have found higher levels of FHB. In a production field near Marshfield, in central Wisconsin, FHB levels were significantly higher than observed in other parts of the state. Incidence was around 25-30% with severity averaging 15-20%. These higher levels of FHB likely resulted from more favorable weather for the FHB fungus during anthesis in this part of the state. For more information about how to handle FHB as we approach harvest CLICK HERE.

Septoria leaf blotch was present in low levels in some fields. However it won’t be a substantial yield-reducer in 2016. Powdery mildew was nearly non-existent in the state for the fourth season straight.

Fusarium Head Blight and Wisconsin Wheat Harvest in 2016

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. Fusarium head blight on a wheat head

Figure 1. Fusarium head blight on a wheat head

Fusarium head blight (FHB) or scab has been relatively low in most Wisconsin winter wheat fields this season. Occasionally we have run across a field with somewhat higher levels of FHB; however, compared to the 2015 crop, we suspect that the 2016 winter wheat crop should have much less FHB. With that said, it is still 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.

What does scab look like? Diseased spikelets on an infected grain head die and bleach prematurely (Fig. 1).  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 beginning to mature. As maturity progresses over the next couple of weeks, 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 (Fig. 2). However, when the finished grain was tested for DON, significant levels were identified for all treatments (Fig. 3). 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. For more information on Fusarium head blight click here.

References

Cowger, C., and Arellano, C. 2013. Fusarium graminearum infection and deoxynivalenol concentrations during development of wheat spikes. Phytopathology 103:460-471.

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.