Less Seed-borne Disease This Year, But Fusarium Is Still a Threat

by | Nov 4, 2021 | Seed Testing

This fall we are seeing less seed-borne disease in samples received by 20/20 Seed Labs in Nisku, Alta. Since August 2021, about 5.2 per cent of seed samples we have tested from Alberta have been positive for Fusarium graminearum. Compare that to the winter of 2021 when over 16 per cent of samples were testing positive. We will still receive more samples over the course of the testing season, but data from this fall gives a good indication for what we will see over the next several months.

Fusarium graminearum is still a threat to most of the province. We tested a durum wheat sample from Alberta that had about 20 per cent Fusarium graminearum infection. So, while the overall disease levels are lower, the potential for individual seed lots to be severely infected at high levels exists. Trevor Blois, disease diagnostician at 20/20 Seed Labs, explains testing your seed is sometimes the only way to know your risk of seed-borne diseases.

“Quite often we’ll see samples and individual seeds that are infected but show no visual symptoms, so it’s really important to get it tested so that you know what the percent of infection is. You can have quite high levels of infection with no visible symptoms.”

Since precipitation was so variable during the growing season, there may be no clear trends emerging about where the hotspots for Fusarium graminearum infected seed are. However, from last year’s testing data, we know the potential for infected seed is exceptionally high in east-central Alberta. Farmers in this region should definitely have their seed tested for Fusarium graminearum in conjunction with using other Fusarium Head Blight management tools.

20/20 Seed Labs tracks the prevalence and geographic distribution of Fusarium graminearum by developing maps based on sample data. This is a helpful guide for farmers and others in the industry to make crop production decisions based on evidence. The information can help producers evaluate risk and plan appropriate management responses. The disease and seed quality maps are published in a subscription-based newsletter called The Incubator. You can find more information about it at 2020seedlabs.ca/the-incubator/

If you have any questions about Fusarium graminearum testing and management, please contact us at (877) 420-2099 or [email protected]

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Rachael Melenka

Client Success Manager, 20/20 Seed Labs Inc. - Rachael grew up on her family farm near Warwick, Alta., and currently her parents are full-time grain farmers. She graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of science in environmental sciences and can now apply her degree to help people make better agronomic decisions. Her favourite part about working in agriculture is the community and being able to constantly learn from research, other farming operations and innovation in the industry.