Increased Fusarium Levels Showing up on Alberta Seed Samples

Fusarium infection on seed. Photo credit: Sarah Foster, 2012

Even one or two infected seeds can over take a seed testing blotter. Further testing may be required. Sarah Foster, 2012.

Although Alberta seed producers have done an excellent job of managing the risks associated with diseases, several of our Lethbridge clients have been concerned about Fusarium graminearum in their cereals this season and have been requesting more disease testing.

One-third of the cereal samples tested this fall have tested positive for the fungus, with infection levels ranging from 0.5% to 10%.

Fusarium graminearum is very dependent on the weather. This year conditions were perfect during flowering — a warm and humid environment during flowering allows fusarium to infect plants quickly. Increased levels of infection this fall aren’t entirely surprising, however it’s still a serious situation.

Germination is affected by fusarium infection and can cause a decline or reduction in the final germination percentage. One or two seeds can quickly spread mycelium across a germination blotter making it almost impossible to read (see photo). Often laboratories will suggest retesting in soil to get a better interpretation of the seeds’ planting potential or recommend a seed treatment if the seed lot still has good germination and vigour.

For more on fusarium and seed testing, click here for tech bulletins from 20/20 Seed Labs.

To view a Wheat School episode highlight management of fusarium, click here.


Sarah Foster

Sarah Foster is the senior seed analyst with 20/20 Seed Labs. Contact her at [email protected]


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