Christina Cowger, a small grains pathologist at North Carolina State University, is warning NC farmers to prepare for an outbreak of fusarium head blight, also known as scab. The Southeast Farm Press reports:
Cowger cautions that scab is a disaster waiting to happen in North Carolina because studies reveal that most of the wheat varieties planted in the Tar Heel State are susceptible or moderately susceptible to fusarium head blight while fungicides don’t offer complete control and must be applied at the right time.
“There was a terrible scab epidemic last year, particularly in Louisiana, and all the way over to Georgia. People have never seen such bad scab. It devastated the wheat industry in that area so this is a real problem. It could have just as easily been North Carolina that was devastated by scab. It’s all about the weather,” Cowger said.
Speaking at the North Carolina Commodities Conference in Durham last month, Cowger shared the results of a phone survey of 16,000 wheat and barley growers across 17 states in the central and Eastern United States.
The survey showed that just 15 percent of the soft red winter wheat varieties planted in North Carolina were moderately resistant to scab. Fifty percent of the acres reported were susceptible or moderately susceptible to scab. None of the commercial varieties are fully resistant to scab at this time, Cowger said.
In addition, another non-scientific scab survey was conducted in 2014 by the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. In the study of 267 respondents from 15 counties who were questioned at Extension meetings, 200 said they planted wheat and they represented 82,000 acres planted. The survey revealed that 22 percent of those 82,000 acres were moderately resistant to scab. The rest of the acreage was either susceptible or moderately susceptible.
Cowger is urging NC wheat and barley growers to plant varieties that are more resistant to the disease, and to sign up for free scab predictions and alerts from the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. Scab season begins in April.
Read the full article here.