Fusarium Head Blight
By Ty Bodeis | May 25, 2022
Fusarium Head Blight, also called Head Scab, is a wheat disease that is fought in Michigan ever year. Some years are worse than others. There is not a good way to predict if it will be a good or bad disease year until it is time to spray for the disease. The weather at the time of head emergence and flowering will drive the severity of Head Scab. Rain and high humidity are the favoring conditions for Head Scab development. Unfortunately, we have those conditions more often than not so here are some tips for managing the disease.
First if you are looking for some help in determining your risk level, there is a tool available online from Penn State University called the Fusarium Risk Tool. Select your location and it will tell you if you are at high, moderate or low risk for getting the disease. While the tool is not perfectly accurate, if you combine its information with your local forecast and weather the week of heading, you can have a good idea of your risk level. If you are at a moderate or high level of risk you may want to spray fungicide to protect your wheat crop.
If you chose to spray your wheat for Fusarium Head Scab there are a limited number of highly effective fungicide options which include Prosaro®, Caramba® and Miravis® Ace. These products are targeted for the control of Fusarium Head Scab. Contact your local chemical dealer to find a product that is available for you. When applying the fungicide, be sure to use high water volume and nozzles with medium to fine droplets to coat the heads of your wheat thoroughly.
Genetic research and breeding have led to the discovery of a resistance gene for Fusarium Head Blight or Head Scabin wheat. DF Seeds is happy to offer several options in our lineup with the gene. DF 121 R, DF 131 R and DF 292 W have the Fhb1 Fusarium Head Blight resistance gene in them. That does not mean that they will not get head scab. It does mean that if they get head scab it will be contained to a row of kernels on the head, because the resistance will stop the spread of the disease. It is possible for the varieties to get a couple of these small infections which on a bad year could lead to problematic DON levels in your wheat. Therefore, your wheat should still be sprayed for head scab if the weather in your area would indicate a moderate to high pressure year for the disease. In a low-pressure area, the resistance gene may be enough to control the disease. However, it is best used as a management tool to be combined with a fungicide program to help make the fungicide more effective.
If you have any questions on Fusarium Head Scab resistance in your DF wheat varieties be sure to contact your local DF Seeds rep.