The Agronomists, Ep 70: Peter Johnson and Kelly Turkington on fusarium head blight management


When we think of a wet year, we think of disease. Throw in a cereal crop, and what’s the disease we think of? Fusarium head blight or FHB. Here to teach us all about FHB management including control timing on this episode of The Agronomists is Dr. Kelly Turkington, plant pathologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson of RealAgriculture.

Hosted by Lyndsey Smith, the Agronomists is brought to you by the Pest & Predators podcast, ADAMA Canada, and the Renewable Diesel members webinar hosted by RealAgriculture.


  • How bad can fusarium be? Let’s take it back a few years… to 1996, in Ontario
  • The disease triangle. Pathologists love that. Susceptible host, favourable environment, enough of the pathogen
  • Moisture is one of the key driving factors
  • Moderate temperatures, but even on the cooler side cause issues
  • In 2016, durum saw a lot of fusarium across the Prairies
  • We have more resistant lines than we used to have, for sure
  • Fusarium is a very tough disease to breed resistance for

CLIP 1: Wheat School: Ideal crop staging for fusarium control

  • Timing is so key. Don’t discredit it, please
  • The infection can occur right at head emergence
  • Fusarium damaged kernels happen when fusarium infection happens early. However, DON can occur at any time
  • Superficial infection can be there hiding
  • The spread within the head is an important feature
  • You need to strive for as much uniformity across the field as possible when it comes to FHB timing
  • Different fungicide products will target different parts of FHB
  • Does slow flowering of the wheat change FHB timing? Does flowering really matter?
  • Infection can still occur in the absence of anthers
  • The key strain is fusarium graminearum, but there are many strains out there
  • Fusarium actually comes from the crop residue

CLIP 2: Wheat School: How T3 fungicide impacts winter wheat yield

  • If you’re putting a fungicide on at herbicide timing, you’re not targeting head development
  • If you want to control fusarium, you have to spray the head
  • Do you need fancy nozzles? It certainly helps. You want to paint the entire head
  • Spray quality and boom height plays into this as well
  • 10-12 inches off the canopy is the ideal height
  • A course droplet gives you better coverage
  • Some producers are looking at dual applications

Other Episodes

The Agronomists (view all)Season 3 (2022) Episode 26

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