Fusarium Ear Blight in Wheat

Fusarium ear disease causes seedling death - up to 50% and can lead to production of Vomitoxins (DON) prior to storage in the ear. Specifically, DON is not found in meat and milk.

Take home Messages

Pink-Orange staining is found in the ear and grain. During grain fill, the ear will have a white empty top and green body. This is Fusarium.

Fusarium is soil and seed borne - Maize Wheat Maize Wheat rotations are at greatest risk - with Hunter one of the worst affected varieties.

Claire & Shamrock are more resistant - and are preferred varieties for Maize Wheat rotations

If saving seed, at least do a germination test - preferably a NIAB Fusarium test - and treat if infection above 5%.   Losses can be up to 50%. Feed no more than 20% of the total ration as wheat, whether infected or not; and start cautiously and gradually increase inclusion rates to the calculated maximum. If toxins are found the ration should contain no more than 4ppm per kg ration dry matter.

There are 4 forms of Fusarium, a belt and braces ear wash at ear emergence with Caramba (a new triazole) and Amistar (a strobilin) gives reasonable control of all forms and is essential if saving for seed.

Triazoles control those Fusarium species producing Toxins but encourages the development of Microdochium nivale - which is most associated with seedling blight and poor emergence.

Toxins occur rarely, and high levels of Fusarium ear blight in Maize Wheat rotations are not a good indicator of likely toxin development.  

GET A SEED TEST DONE Seed Rates: sow from Mid October at 3/4's cwt per acre The simple rule of thumb for Autumn planting is to add 50% germination / plant losses to the spring plant populations required below to give seeds per square metre.

From a known thousand seed weight of 45grams the equation is for a late October - mid November drilling in a good seedbed after Maize.  Sowing in September in Cornwall is generally not advised - highest yields are normally achieved from mid October - November. Barley is better from September to Mid October. Where seed is lower than 5% Fusarium untreated or otherwise dressed, sow at 3/4's cwt per acre

Drilling Month
Optimum no. of plants/sq m in spring
by end Sept
60
by Mid Oct
90
by mid Nov
140
Source: ADAS/HGCA

1.5 x 140 = 210 seeds to achieve 140 plants in spring

(210 x 45) / 100 = 95 kg seeds / ha

61 x 0.405= 38kg seeds per ac

38 x 0.16 = 6 Stone per acre 6 /8 = 3/4 cwt per acre

Most farmers typically drill at 11/4's cwt per acre - thats half a cwt over the top - 7.50 to much.   Home saved seed valued at 100 costs 3.80 versus 11.40 purchased sown at 3/4's cwt per acre