UK Plant Pathologist To Kentucky Farmers: Check For Head Scab On Crops

Jun 4, 2019

University of Kentucky Extension Plant Pathologist Carl Bradley says now is a good time for farmers to inspect their grain crops for a disease that impacts quality and yield.

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He says he is seeing a high level of head scab disease on trial crops in Princeton.

Head scab, also known as Head Blight, infects crops such as wheat, barley and rye with the FDA regulated toxin D.O.N. The toxin is cultivated by Fusarium fungus. The fungus infects the wheat heads and accumulates in the grain. Farmers may be unable to sell their grain if toxin levels are too high.

Bradley says a symptom of head scab is bleached wheat heads. He says farmers should be looking for discoloration in the wheat heads. If farmers are seeing some head bleach in the field he advises them to turn the fans up on their combines.  

Bradley says losses could be minimalized by planting resistant varieties and spraying an appropriate fungicide as wheat heads begin to flower.

Farmers can find information about resistant wheat varieties at the UK’s wheat variety trials online and scabsmart.org.