Pulse School: Fusarium doesn’t just impact your wheat crops

When most producers hear the word “fusarium” they think of fusarium head blight, and how it impacts their wheat crops.

Fusarium also attacks pulse crops, but in this situation, it goes after the roots.

Fusarium avenaceum is the species that’s commonly associated with root rots in peas. It’s also a fungus that causes fusarium head blight in wheat, but it’s generally fusarium graminearum that causes downgrading and vomitoxin problems in wheat, explains Michael Harding, plant pathologist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, explaining the differences in fusarium species in this Pulse School episode.

Fusarium root rot is an “extremely common issue in peas in Alberta and Saskatchewan,” he notes.

“Unfortunately for root rots in peas and other pulses, we don’t really have a lot of great management – certainly no control options- but not any great management recommendations,” explains Harding at Farming Smarter’s Field Day in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

The management techniques for fusarium root rot are similar to what the recommendations are for aphanomyces, another aggressive root rot pathogen in pulses.

“If we know there is a field where the root rot disease pressure is high, we should avoid peas and lentils in those fields,” suggests Harding. “We also should avoid fields that are prone to compaction, water logging, that have heavy clay that holds a lot of moisture. Those conditions really sort of increase the ability of fusarium to cause a lot of damage.”

Harding adds that seed treatments are a good option as well to protect your crop during it’s critical stage, but will not protect it throughout its life cycle.

To learn more about the fusarium pathogen that causes root rot, and what it means for wheat and peas grown in the same rotation, check out this video filmed at Farming Smarter’s Field Day in Medicine Hat, Alberta. (Find more Pulse School agronomy info here.)

Related: Pulse School: It’s time to scout for ascochyta



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