Winter Wheat Crops Hit Harder by Fusarium than Spring Wheat

CANADA - The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) reports, while the majority of spring wheat crops escaped damage from fusarium head blight this year, levels of infection in winter wheat crops were unusually high, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 12 October 2007
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As part of the Canadian Grain Commission grain research lab's annual harvest survey across western Canada scientists look for signs of fusarium infection.

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

Grain commission mycologist Randy Clear says researchers focus on wheat because, in wheat, fusarium damaged kernels are easy to spot in a sample which provides a good indication of areas being affected.

Randy Clear-Canadian Grain Commission

The species that we find in western Canada causing the great majority of the disease is a species called fusarium graminearum and it's an organism found throughout the world and is responsible for the vast majority world wide.

The areas affected are really centered once again in Manitoba as it traditionally is, the Red River valley being always one of the worst areas.

This year was good year in terms of head blight, certainly in the spring wheat and that's partly due to the quality of varieties being grown in areas that are susceptible to the disease.

The winter wheats, as they often miss the time of infection, this year they didn't with all the wet weather we had in early summer, May and June and so their levels are higher than we traditionally see in the red winters.

Tolerances for fusarium damaged kernels in red winter wheat is actually up around two percent so the level of damage required to lower the grade is actually much higher than a red spring which starts at .25 percent, almost ten fold lower.

Clear notes fusarium graminearum infection continues to be restricted to areas of Manitoba, particularly the red river valley and into southeastern Saskatchewan.

He adds the disease is hard to find at any level in Alberta or in southwestern Saskatchewan.

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