news, features, articles and disease information for the crop industry

Stem Rust

© Kansas State University, Department of Plant Pathology

Pathogen(s) causing disease:

Puccinia graminis


Stem rust causes dark orange pustules on the stems and also on the leaves. It is similar to leaf rust, but leaf rust does not attack the stems. Stem rust can cause serious losses because the stem can be completely girdled by the pustules and prevent grain fill.


Occurs worldwide wherever wheat is grown. It is most important where dews are frequent during and after heading and temperatures are warm, 18-30 C. Stem rust is favored by hot days 25-30 C, mild nights 15-20 C with adequate moisture for night time dews. Wind can effectively disperse spores over great distances. Rain is necessary for effective deposition of spore involved in regional spore transport.


Most varieties now have adequate resistance to stem rust, but a few are moderately susceptible.


Kansas State University

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