Test seed where disease raises doubt

GROWERS PLANNING to use home-saved seed next season should consider testing samples due to a risk of Fusarium and Microdochium in some areas, experts have warned.

While many places were dry in June to early July, heavy rain pockets around the country could have heightened the risk from spore development and disease spread, said Martin Hare from Harper Adams University College.

“If it’s dry early on then spores are produced at the stem base – then a rain event moves spores to the ears at a critical time of year to infect. We had localised rain events – they were just at the wrong time for farmers.”

NIAB’s Jane Thomas agreed, but pointed out that many wheat growing areas stayed dry.

“There is a risk where isolated pockets of rain occurred, but we haven’t had any [wheat] samples in yet, so it is very difficult to say how big the risk is.”

The current spell of unsettled weather is too late to affect Microdochium risk, but if it continues for another 7-10 days, growers could be looking at more serious problems with grain and seed quality, she added.

Both experts advised any growers using home saved seed who are concerned about disease affecting crops to get samples tested.

If infection is present, Dr Hare advises using a seed treatment. Where a triazole fungicide has been used, this treatment should have a different mode of action to minimise selection pressure for fungicide resistance, he said.

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