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Agronomy Update

Fungicide in Wheat

Published on Monday, May 2, 2016

Despite its deceivingly short height, wheat has reproductively matured well over the last few weeks. I have seen a few leaf diseases this year (mostly minor infections) but if you are thinking about fungicides, make sure to first determine if you are concerned about leaf diseases or head scab (Fusarium head blight.) When it comes to leaf diseases, we should be most concerned with keeping the flag leaf (last leaf out before the head) as clean as possible. About 50 percent of a wheat plant's yield comes from energy made by the flag leaf.

I have been walking wheat fields this week and have noticed many heads are starting to emerge on early wheat. This is the time we need to be worried about head scab. 

Wheat gets infected by head scab when we have wet conditions around the time of flowering. Flowering occurs about three to four days after full head emergence. Flowering or pollination will typically take three to five days. Pollination will occur slightly later on tillers than the main stem, but they will both pollinate within a few days of each other. Flowering will start in the middle of the head and move to the top and bottom.  

Head scab causes low test weight and produces a mycotoxin that poses a significant threat to the health of domestic animals and humans. This year, the dry conditions have put us a low risk for head scab, but the rains this week will increase chances that it could occur. The Penn State wheat scab model has categorized us as medium to low risk, but past history tells us it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to head scab. Timing is very important to get good control.

I am telling customers to plan on a fungicide application at flowering time. Prosaro® and Caramba® are the most effective fungicides for head scab, but do not use any foliar feed with Caramba.

Click here
for more information on fungicide efficacy for control of wheat diseases.

Caramba® is a registered trademark of BASF Corporation. Prosaro® is a registered trademark of Bayer.

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Steve Gauck

Steve Gauck

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