Wheat School: Mitigating seed-borne diseases


Seed and soil-borne diseases should be on the radar of every grower this time of year. Getting a handle on the diseases present on your seed means being able to pick an effective seed treatment.

“As we go into seeding, there are four common pathogens or diseases that your seed is going to encounter,” says Chadrick Carley, agronomic services manager with Syngenta Canada. Fusarium, common root rots, rhizoctonia, and pythium are the main ones to watch out for.

It’s easier to think about the seed-borne diseases because they are easy to test for, says Carley. Growers can get a better understanding of what pathogens are present on seed, quite easily, and quickly before seeding, therefore knowing what seed treatment to use.

A disease like fusarium head blight, which occurs later in the year, is very visual and can result in quality downgrades, can actually be managed and the cycle can be broken right now at seed care timing, says Carley.

“The first one would be starting off with the genetics that you’re choosing,” says Carley. A wheat variety that has some resistance to fusarium head blight will reduce inoculum in future years. Then, Carley suggests using the seed that has the lowest possible amount of fusarium present. After that, look at seed treatments to maximize emergence.

Carley notes that the tie between seed care and fusarium is in choosing the right seed treatment. “We might not be looking at fusarium head blight at this timing, but what we are looking at is making sure that we have the most uniform crop that we can so that when we get to that fusarium head blight fungicide timing, it really makes that fungicide timing easier.”

Crop rotation is a really powerful tool too, says Carley. A break of at least two years in cereal host crops gives the residue a chance to break down, ultimately lowering inoculum levels.

“The key consideration that I’d look for in a seed care product would be broad spectrum control,” adds Carey. Choose a product that has multiple modes of action, and making sure that multiple active ingredients that are effective against the seed and soil-borne diseases that may be present.

Check out the video for the full discussion between Carley and Kara Oosterhuis:

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