Survey Shows Low Levels of Fusarium Head Blight Infection in Saskatchewan

CANADA - Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food reports low levels of fusarium head blight this season - and notably less in species of particular the concern, have been low, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 5 October 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Fusarium head blight is a fungal infection that primarily affects cereal crops.

As part of an annual survey Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, in cooperation with the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation, surveyed about 240 wheat, barley, oat and corn fields.

Provincial plant disease specialist Penny Pearse says samples were collected during the heading stage to determine changes in virulence and the species present.

Penny Pearse-Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The good news is that we aren't seeing very high levels of fusarium head blight and this is what we've been seeing for the last few years so overall our severity levels are quite low.

Some of the values so far, for example, for wheat on average we have a severity of 0.2 percent and what that would mean if you translated that, that's about two out of a thousand kernels may have some fusarium in them.

But it doesn't necessarily mean that they are visually impacted or we don't necessarily know what species is causing that.

For barley that average is around 0.6 percent and for durum it's even less than 0.1 percent.

Part of this can be explained by our dry conditions that we had in July.

The way that fusarium attacks a crop is it gets in during the flowering stage and it needs moisture and warm temperatures at that time but we did not have moisture so, although that heat may have affected yields and caused other problems in the crop, it was good news in terms of limiting fusarium head blight.

Pearse notes levels of the species of concern, fusarium graminearum which produces a mycotoxin that can affect quality and food safety limiting market use, are especially low.

She says while fusarium graminearum is present, it's primarily in the southeastern regions and in pockets in the irrigation areas of the province.

Further Reading

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