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Fusarium Head Blight: Stop This Tricky Disease in Its Tracks

April 19, 2018
This agronomic image shows fusarium head blight in wheat.

Fusarium head blight (scab) in wheat.

With temperatures rising and winter wheat maturing, now is the time to begin thinking about disease control, particularly Fusarium head blight (scab). Even with careful planning, management can be tricky and bottom lines can take a hit.

How does Fusarium head scab impact your wheat?

Fusarium head scab is a key disease to watch out for because, in severe cases, yield loss of more than 45% has been recorded. Additionally, Fusarium head scab also produces a deoxynivalenol (DON) toxin that is poisonous to animals. Wheat with high DON levels are priced at a discounted rate or, in extreme cases, refused at the elevator – decreasing your ROI at the end of the season.

Why is Fusarium head scab sometimes difficult to control?

Fusarium head scab is a tricky disease to control because while the pathogen that causes head scab could already be living in your fields, widespread symptoms don’t appear until late in the season. Additionally, current fungicide options are only effective if applied at flowering, which can be as short a window as 1 to 3 days. To complicate things, if you have multiple fields, the wheat in each field may reach flowering on different days. Knowing the growth stages throughout every field and planning your fungicide applications for optimal performance can be next to impossible, given the limitations of existing fungicides.

How can you stay ahead of Fusarium head scab?

1.) Know the history of your field and take note of your crop rotation. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension explains that corn and sorghum are also host crops for the Fusarium pathogen. If you are rotating corn or sorghum with your wheat, the pathogen has a susceptible host in back-to-back seasons, increasing the chance of disease carryover in multiple seasons.

2.) Be sure that you’re actually dealing with Fusarium head scab. In early stages of development, the University of Georgia Extension notes that Fusarium head scab can be confused with other diseases, like black chaff or glume blotch. While scouting for Fusarium head scab, be on the lookout for:

  • White or bleached heads
  • Brown/purplish stems, directly below in the head
  • Pink spore accumulation
  • Shrunken, pink/grayish kernels

3.) Plant a resistant, certified seed variety. The path to successful disease management often begins with your seed.

4.) If conditions and field history indicate the possibility of Fusarium head scab, consider a fungicide application to stop further infection. A timely application of an effective fungicide can help protect yield and stop rising DON levels.

Visit the Adepidyn® fungicide technical overview webpage to learn more about a new tool coming soon that will widen the application window (allowing applications as early as 50% head emergence) and give you the time you need to maximize the effectiveness of your head scab applications across all of your acres.

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All photos are either the property of Syngenta or are used with permission.

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Product performance assumes disease presence.

©2018 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Some products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties. Please check with your local extension service to ensure registration status. Upon registration, Adepidyn fungicide will be formulated for use on wheat as Miravis® Ace. Miravis Ace and Adepidyn fungicides are not currently registered for sale in the United States. This is not an offer for sale. Adepidyn®, Miravis® and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.