Wheat School: Evolving Stripe Rust Beats The Heat

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Wheat stripe rust is thriving in Ontario and growers are asking what can they do to manage a growing scourge of what European growers now refer to as ‘Yellow Death.’

In this episode of Wheat School, Real Agriculture agronomist Peter Johnson takes you to the Ontario Cereal Crops Committee performance trials near Harriston, Ontario where he discusses what is known about the disease and what researchers hope to learn in the provincial trials.

“I have never seen a disease move faster,” says Johnson who notes that stripe rust seems to have mutated and is adapting quickly to Ontario growing conditions. “It looks like we have more heat-tolerant stripe rust. It used to be that when temperatures went over 20 degrees, stripe rust become a non-issue,” explains Johnson. “Now, in these plots, at 28 degrees, it’s still doing a huge amount of damage.”

Touring the provincial trials, Johnson looks at susceptible varieties and how they perform with and without fungicides. “One of the key things about stripe rust is the number of different races – every location is different. The same variety is affected differently in Ridgetown versus here in Harriston.”

Johnson believes the best defence against stripe rust is a combination of genetic tolerance and fungicide application. With this approach, growers can likely achieve up to 98% control.

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