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Common Bunt (Stinking Smut)


© Purdue University, Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

Pathogen(s) causing disease:

Fungus. Tilletia caries, T. foetida

Symptoms:

Infected heads remain green longer than uninfected heads, glumes may be spread apart, infected seeds appear dark, internal tissues replaced by masses of black fungal spores. Spores have a rotting fishy smell.

Conditions:

 Disease is favored by cool temperatures and moist conditions. Therefore, more common and severe in wheat sown in the fall. Spores from bunted heads survive in the soil or are carried on infested seed. These spores infect seedlings in the fall resulting in bunted heads the next spring.

Management:

Pathogen-free seed, fungicide seed treatment, resistant cultivars. An additional practice that may help control common bunt is to plant wheat early when soils are warm (>25 C or >77 F) because infection by common bunt is favored in cool soils.

Sources:

Purdue University
Oklahoma State University

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