26 October 2001
Cereal fungus warnings escalate

By Tom Allen-Stevens

MORE agronomic warnings for cereal crops have been issued, with growers advised to be on the look out for ergot in seed and net blotch on barley.

High levels of ergot have been found in certified seed in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, mostly in Consort.

Meanwhile the SAC reports that the sclerotia have also been found in harvested grain in the Borders and Inverness.

If allowed to contaminate a batch of cereal used for food or animal rations, ergot produces a range of toxins that are dangerous to humans and animals.

The maximun tolerance level for ergots for human consumption is 0.001% by weight. The tolerance level in C1 and C2 seed is three sclerotia per 500g seed.

“Ergot can be cleaned out over a gravity table, says NIABs Jane Thomas.

“Baytan (fuberidazole + triadimenol) and Sibutol (bitertanol + fuberidazole) seed treatments have label recommendations for its control.

Controlling grass weeds in the crop is also important, since they act as carriers for the disease.

High levels of net blotch have also been found on crops of Regina winter barley in the south west and on Pearl in the Norfolk area, says Dalgetys Bob Bulmer.

He advises that growers noting infections should only act when levels of the disease are greater than 40%.

“Growers should be on the look out for net blotch infections and should treat with a fungicide that does not contain carbendazim.

“This fungicide can actually encourage net blotch in the long-term.”

Ergot develops in the ear and falls out at harvest into the soil, germinating in the spring to produce fruiting bodies that release a mass of ascospores.

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