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What to look for when scouting for fusarium
What to look for when scouting for fusarium

What to look for when scouting for fusarium

Scouting during harvest is a good strategy

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

Since farmers are out combining their fields anyway, taking a few minutes to scout for diseases couldn’t hurt.

Alberta farmers have harvested about 17 per cent of their spring wheat, according to Alberta Agriculture’s August 29 Crop Report.

And now is a good time to scout for fusarium, according to Kelly Turkington, research scientist, plant pathology with Agriculture Canada.

Wheat will provide clues if it’s battling fusarium.

“What you’re looking for are shriveled, sort of chalky white kernels in wheat,” Turkington told Alberta Agriculture’s Call of the Land. “Those are what we refer to as fusarium damaged kernels or FDKs.”

It can be tricky for farmers to identify fusarium in barley, however.

Alberta growers have completed about 25 per cent of their barley harvest, according to Alberta Agriculture’s latest report.

“The symptoms are much less distinct in the harvested grain,” Turkington said. “You’ll get brownish discolouration (of the kernels). Typically it’s not very distinct and it’s easily confused with net blotch or spot blotch infection, kernel smudge or even hail damage.”

Fusarium impacts a crop’s grade at the elevator.

The elevator’s staff will determine a fusarium percentage on a weight basis.

“They’ll take 100 grams of grain and separate the FDKs,” he told Call of the Land. “Weigh that and you get a percent (of) FDK. If it’s above fairly tight tolerance levels, you’ll quickly go from a number one wheat to a number two or number three.”

More information on fusarium symptoms and FDK levels found on Alberta Agriculture’s website.