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How To Reduce Losses from Fusarium Head Blight

23 May 2011
University of Manitoba

CANADA - A wheat breeder with the University of Manitoba recommends a multi-pronged approach for reducing the potential for yield and quality loses in cereal crops resulting from fusarium head blight

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Fusarium graminearium attacks cereal grains, particularly wheat and barley as well as oats and corn, reducing yields and producing a mycotoxin that reduces the end use quality of the grains.

Dr. Anita Brûlé-Babel, a wheat breeder with the University of Manitoba, reports there is a potential for developing genetic resistance to fusarium but genetic resistance is not complete in either wheat or barley so, when you have good conditions for the disease, even the most resistant varieties are not always capable of withstanding the pathogen.

Dr. Anita Brûlé-Babel, the University of Manitoba said:

Some newer varieties have been registered that are labeled as moderately resistant at least within the wheats, both in the spring wheats and also in the winter wheats as well.

These as moderately resistant will still have disease under high disease epidemic conditions but are better than what the susceptible and moderately susceptible materials of the past have been.

We have had some improvements genetically but unfortunately our resistant sources that we have are not 100 per cent effective so they need to really be combined with management practices, doing a proper job of residue management and crop rotation and also the application of fungicides when conditions are conducive to disease development.

The combination of those things together will significantly reduce the amount of disease in the field. Unfortunately individually none of these are 100 per cent effective so we really do need a multi-pronged approach to managing this particular disease.


Dr. Brûlé-Babel expects continued improvements in fusarium resistance but she doubts it will ever be 100 per cent so farmers will need to continue to rely on a combination of management strategies to deal this particular disease.

TheCropSite News Desk

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