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Tips to protect your crops from ‘yellow death’

Tips to protect your crops from ‘yellow death’

Experts share how farmers can prevent stripe rust damage in wheat 


By Kaitlynn Anderson

Staff Reporter


Ontario wheat growers can implement many strategies to reduce the detrimental effects of stripe rust on yields.

The disease can be so harmful that is often referred to as “yellow death” in the United Kingdom, Dr. David Hooker, a field crop agronomist and assistant professor at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus, told today.

And stripe rust is most likely to develop under certain growing conditions.

The likelihood of wheat crops contracting the infection increases when the disease is present in the southern United States and when Ontario experiences moist conditions or frequent, heavy dews, according to Dr. Hooker.

“Stripe rust has primarily been a cool season disease that is not active above 77 F (25 C), but there is recent evidence that the pathogen is evolving to warmer temperatures,” he said. “This puts the entire province at a higher risk, and extends the window of infection and disease development later into the season.”

Producers can take a few steps to protect their crop from stripe rust.

“The best defence against stripe rust is a combination of variety selection, scouting and timely fungicide applications,” Joanna Follings, a cereals specialist with OMAFRA, wrote in a Field Crop News article yesterday.

When selecting wheat varieties, farmers may want to pay attention to the ratings on stripe rust susceptibility.

A variety with a rating of six or higher “is susceptible to stripe rust and will benefit from a fungicide application if (the disease) is present,” said Follings.

Moderately resistant varieties hold a rating between three and five, and should be scouted on a regular basis. Farmers growing these varieties may want to consider a fungicide application if stripe rust appears to be challenging the upper leaves of the canopy – especially if the crop is at the flag leaf stage, she added.

A rating of two or lower “indicates that the variety is resistant against stripe rust and will (not likely) benefit from an early season fungicide application.”

In addition to choosing a suitable variety, growers may want to scout their fields consistently to ensure early detection of stripe rust.

“Regular scouting assists in determining if fungal disease infection is progressing up the plant,” said Follings. This step “is critical in determining if a fungicide application is needed, and at what timing.”

For more information on stripe rust, growers can read the online field guide.


Photo: OMAFRA 

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