Dr. Erick DeWolf with Wheat Seed Treatment

(Dr. Erick DeWolf) The last decade or so we’ve seen a little higher commodity prices and that had stimulated some interest in fungicide seed treatments. As the commodity prices have gone down again, people are starting to question, Do I really need to do this, or do I not? I would say if you’re not interested in using a fungicide seed treatment on all your wheat, then I would set priorities in terms of wheat that you’re planning to bring on to your farm as new varieties that you’re going to save for your own seed. There’s a number of different seed borne diseases we might be concerned about this time. Some of them are just strictly seed borne, or have a very loose association with some soil borne factors. Would be diseases like Common Bunt, or another name for that is Stinking Smut, because of the strong fishy odor that that particular fungus is able to produce in contaminated grain. Another one might be Loose Smut and I remember last year we had a disease reemerge after a long break of more than 30 years, a disease called Flag Smut. All three of those will be major targets of primarily seed borne only contaminants of wheat seeds. We might consider fungicide seed treatments for controlling diseases like Fusarium. Either it can be a seed borne come in on seed lots that were affected by Fusarium Head Blight in the previous year and there’s a seed borne phase of that Fusarium fungus that can affect the germination of the seed lot and can also cause damping off, or seedling blight type of diseases, where the young seedlings become diseased and collapse and die before they even emerge in many cases. But most of the fungicide seed treatments that are marketed widely in the state now, I think include one or more active ingredients that are going to give a fairly broad spectrum in controlling the Smut diseases, the Common Bunt, the Loose Smut, Flag Smut quite easily and then where we’re getting some differences is in the control of the seed borne Fusarium, or some of those other more difficult to control fungi. It’s going to be a balance here to decide what are the priority fields, what are the priority costs. These seed borne diseases can cause a lot of problems for us. Certainly, if you look at it in terms of insurance, this is a pretty low-cost thing for wheat producers to do when it comes to the potential losses that they could experience.

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