Blog Post

Pest Alert: Root Rot Detected in Western Kansas

An agronomic photo showing common root rot.

Several samples of wheat from western Kansas have been infected with common root rot, according to a recent Kansas State early-season outlook for wheat disease report. Common root rot is present at low levels almost every year in Kansas and survives between seasons on crop residues and organic matter in the soil. In most years, the plants have enough healthy roots to compensate for the damage caused by the disease.

The disease is caused by a soil-inhabiting fungus that survives as spores in the soil or on infected debris from previous crops. Infections can linger in cereal fields, causing numerous issues including seedling death in extreme cases. It is also commonly misidentified or undiagnosed.

Visible symptoms can include:

  • Elongated brown spots or lesions
  • Plant breakoff that occurs easily near the ground
  • Roots of infected seedlings that are rotted and may be covered with white, gray or pink mold

If only part of the root system is involved, the plant does not tiller and sends up only a single stem with a small seed head. When root rot occurs, the plants have brown crowns and lower stems. As they approach maturity, ripening is premature and plants can die prematurely, often having a bleached appearance. Common root rot typically occurs after spells of hot weather following a period of cool weather. It is also most prevalent in fields where wheat is planted following corn.

Syngenta recommends a seed treatment like CruiserMaxx® Vibrance Cereals, which helps protect seeds, seedlings and root systems from common root rot. Formulated to boost a crop’s RootingPower by delivering enhanced disease protection that leads to stronger root systems and improved crop performance, it acts as a barrier to protect the root system from the spores in the soil and lowers disease risk.

Regularly scout fields to track the presence of common root rot and other diseases in your fields.

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