Wheat Ears turning a funny colour?


Fusarium Mycotoxins


We are currently seeing large amounts of Fusarium ear blight in our wheat crops. Recent models have suggested that three or more rain events from flowering until 3-5 days post-flowering will result in severe infection if inoculum is present and the variety is susceptible. It comes as no surprise therefore that the extreme weather conditions this season have increased the incidence of Fusarium ear blight infection. 




The disease causes yield loss, low specific weights, low seed germination and contamination of grain with mycotoxins. This is a particular concern because Fusarium mycotoxins threaten grain safety for food and feed markets and whilst Fusarium in the crop doesn't mean grain mycotoxins are inevitable, it does set alarm bells ringing. 


Without widespread and costly testing, we won't be certain that crops are free from mycotoxins at the point of sale. But the HGCA's improved risk assessment, accompanying every load of farm-assured grain, aims to take the guesswork out of risk analysis. Millers and other end users interpret the information about previous crop, variety, T3 fungicide use and conditions prior to harvest to make decisions on whether or not to test. A downloadable risk assessment tool is available on the HGCA web site, clicking on the following link will direct you to the site.





What can be done going forward?


  • The disease can overwinter on crop stubble and as soilborne inoculum so try to incorporate as much of the straw as possible.


  • There are varietal susceptibility differences which may be worth considering when deciding which varieties to grow next season. (Relay = 6.8   Grafton = 5.3)


  • Assess the level of infection in your own crops to assess whether or not to home save seed.


  • If infection is high screening off and removing the light weight infected grains can significantly reduce DON levels.


  • Consider growing a non cereal break crop in badly infected fields.


Was it worth while doing an ear wash?


There are growers that are questioning why there is Fusarium ear blight in the crop when (sometimes for the first time) they applied an ear wash. As already established conditions have very much favoured all disease this year be that Fusarium, Septoria or Yellow Rust etc.


It is important to note at this point that even the best chemistry at high rates only offers a reduction in Fusarium ear blight. But with this reduction combined with the added levels of control of Septoria, Rusts and a number of other ear diseases the yield return from a T3 application is likely to be in the region of 0.5-0.75 T/Ha, at £175 per tonne = £87.50-£131.25 per Ha.


So the simple answer to the above question is, yes.


For more information please speak to your R.M. Jones agronomist.

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