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Crop diseases to watch for in 2012

It’s still too early to tell, but there’s a good chance prairie producers will be facing increased crop disease pressure next year due to this year’s cold and wet conditions, says a plant disease specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. Faye Dokken-Bouchard provides an overview of this year’s problem diseases and what producers might expect next year:

Sclerotinia

There was above-average presence of sclerotinia this year, she says, and early indicators point to a similar situation next year. “We’re just starting our crop disease survey now (October 2011). We’re starting to see some sclerotinia but won’t be sure about the extent until the survey is complete.”

Stripe Rust

Although stripe rust has been on its radar for a few years, Dokken-Bouchard says the department found a lot more of it in wheat and durum crops this past growing season. A late infection of winter wheat last year (2010) is the likely culprit, she says, but a build-up of disease inoculant spreading from different parts of the province could offer another explanation.

It means farmers are spraying more as a result. “With the value of cereal crops being a bit higher this year it doesn’t take much to warrant a spray, because it’s more likely to pay off.”

Fusarium Head Blight

The rise in the presence of fusarium head blight this year may increase the risk of inoculum in fields next growing season, says Dokken-Bouchard. “Because fusarium appears during flowering, it would all come down to how much rain falls on a field-by-field basis during that time,” she says.

“If you had wetter conditions after the crop had already started to dry down, you might get growth of fusarium on the head. That won’t cause damage to the kernels but could cause seedling blight the following year.”

Photo Credit: Bayer CropScience