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Watching Wheat Diseases Ahead of Harvest

Cool temperatures at the beginning of the season and dry weather now have kept most wheat diseases at bay. However, there is one exception this season: powdery mildew.

“It’s a slightly unusual disease in that it’s favored by less rainfall,” said Marty Chilvers, field crops pathologist with Michigan State University. “Powdery mildew really thrives when we have these mild winters, cool and humid conditions with dew formation, and anything that might promote that such as susceptible varieties or excess nitrogen.”

Chilvers presented at the Michigan Wheat Program’s Field Day. Knowing variety susceptibility will help resistance of not only powdery mildew, but other diseases such as head scab and foliar diseases.

“Variety is one of those key things for disease management, but also having an understanding of what we have and what we’re working with in terms of susceptibility of what’s currently out there,” he said.

Most parts of the state are past the point of spraying for head scab, which thrives in warm and wet conditions.

“We’ve been tracking the Fusarium Risk Tool—essentially Michigan’s been in that low-risk category this whole period of flowering, and a lot of this risk is pretty heavily associated with moisture and temperature,” said Chilvers.

Chilvers noted that head scab applications will also help for stripe rust, which has been slow to set in this year. For the full program, click here.