Wheat is susceptible to more than 30 diseases caused by fungi, viruses and bacteria. Identifying disease can be tricky. There are a number of resources for keying out diseases. In addition, The Michigan Wheat Committee (checkoff program) has funding to cover diagnostic fees through the MSU Diagnostic Services. There are a few key diseases that are more common and farmers have to battle on a regular basis.
Fusarium Head Blight
Head scab, caused by fusarium graminarium, infects wheat heads at flowering time. This fungus produces a toxin called Deoxynivalenol or DON or just simply vomitoxin. Since wheat is a human food crop, this disease must be controlled. High vomitoxin wheat can be fed to livestock at low levels, but for flour it must be below 2 ppm. Head scab management should start with selecting resistant varieties. There are several fungicides that are effective in controlling head scab. Check out these resources for advice on how to manage head scab:
Stripe rust is caused by the fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici. A total of 109 races of P. striiformis f. sp. tritici have been found in the U.S., according to “Epidemiology and control of stripe rust [Puccinia striiformis f.sp. tritici] on wheat,” a study published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology by X.M. Chen. Yield losses of 40 percent or more in fields where susceptible varieties are planted can occur. The 2016 crop year brought epidemic levels of the disease to fields in Michigan planted to susceptible varieties. This afforded us the opportunity to rate our State Yield Trial performance lines for stripe rust. See more information below: