Conditions raise concerns over fusarium on Prairies

Wet conditions delaying seeding operations across Western Canada this spring could leave wheat crops more susceptible to fusarium if the moisture continues through the growing season.

Fusarium head blight is a fungal disease that attacks cereal crops, especially wheat and barley. It is usually most prevalent in Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, but moist conditions in 2010 saw a wider area of the Prairies affected by the disease.

“The moisture around now doesn’t usually come into play,” said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis with the Canadian Wheat Board, “but it won’t take much more additional moisture later on in the growing season that would make conditions that would be ideal (for fusarium).”

The lateness of spring seeding will mean wheat crops will also develop later and could create some concern.

Conditions tend to be more rainy and humid in the first few weeks of July, compared to late June, which will leave crops developing at that time more susceptible to fusarium, Burnett said.

“If we can be dry and warm, with lower humidity, in early July, that would help us out significantly,” he said.

With wheat prices remaining relatively strong, Burnett expected producers would take actions, through fungicide use, to prevent disease problems as much as possible.

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