Will I be able to improve the grade of my grain by using gravity tables and colour sorters?

Gravity tables and colour sorters have been shown to be an effective way of sorting out fusarium-damaged kernels (FDK) if the grower has the time and money to spend on the method. Gravity tables remove kernels based on density and are effective at removing heavily infected seeds, but can also result in the loss of healthy seed. Optical sorters remove kernels based on visual differences, but the process can be time-consuming and is more suited to hard wheat than soft wheat. Additionally, fusarium-damaged barley and oat do not show significant shrivelling and are not likely to be removed by equipment sorting by density, weight or colour.

It is important to remember that removing FDK (i.e. visibly infected kernels) from a grain sample does not mean that the grain is free of DON, the toxin produced by Fusarium graminearum. The relationship between FDK and DON varies and in years where infection occurs late in anthesis (or even after anthesis), visual symptoms are not always apparent whereas DON levels can still be elevated. While the Canadian Grain Commission grades wheat based on percent FDK, some markets are interested in DON levels. It is important to discuss with grain buyers and/or elevators their guidelines regarding FDK and DON. It is also recommended that growers test their grain for DON to best determine how to market it.

There is newer technology available that sorts grain based on chemical composition using near infrared transmission (NIR). This method is more effective at reducing DON levels because it is not only dependent on visual symptoms on the kernel. The machinery required to sort grain using NIR can be quite expensive to purchase, but is relatively inexpensive to run. For more information on this technology please refer to http://bomill.com/products/.

 

Submitted by

Holly Derksen, Field Crop Pathologist, Manitoba Agriculture

Barbara Ziesman, Provincial Specialist, Plant Disease, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

Michael Harding, Research Scientist, Plant Pathology, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry

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Economics & Agronomics – Crop Management Decisions Need Both!

It’s an obvious statement to say successful farm management decisions need both agronomic and economic considerations. Farmers weigh out input cost versus the benefit to yield and quality of grain before making the decisions to buy and use new or additional products.

 Agronomy and economic crop management goes much beyond inputs. Consideration of crop rotation, Cost of Production, seeding date and weather indicators for disease all need to be considered. Within agronomic decisions there can be tools to estimate the economic impacts of different decisions. The ‘My Farm’, ‘Cost of Production’, ‘Canola Reseed Calculator’ and ‘Sclerotinia Treatment Decision Tool’ are all based on yield trends and agronomy to help make economic decisions easier.

See slideshow at http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/business-and-economics/financial-management/pubs/presentation-mac-agronomicseconomics.pdf

Submitted by Roy Arnott – Farm Business Management, Killarney and Anastasia Kubinec – Crops Branch, Carman.

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If I plan to sow Fusarium-infected seed, when should I use a seed treatment?

Using good quality seed, with high germinability and vigour, and low disease incidence, is always recommended. Cleaning of grain to remove fusarium damaged kernels can improve grade and seed germination. In addition, seed should be planted into warm, well-drained, fertile soil at the appropriate depth. Applying fungicidal seed treatments to cereal seed is also a beneficial management practice that helps reduce risks associated with seedling mortality and reductions in stand establishment due to seed-borne, seed-transmitted and soil-borne fungal pathogens especially when planting conditions are not optimal. Fusarium species are examples of fungi that can cause disease on germinating seeds and seedlings and reduce plant populations. The level of Fusarium infection in a seed lot should be determined by laboratory testing, not just by counting fusarium damaged kernels. In cases where Fusarium infections reduce germination, a germination test should be used to adjust the seeding rate so that emergence and yield are not compromised. Research has shown that when seeding rates are adjusted based on germination rates, seed with low levels of infection (5-10%) have no significant improvement in emergence or yield due to a seed treatment (May et al., 2010). However, it is important to keep in mind that other soil-borne, residue-borne or seed-borne microorganisms (i.e. pests other than Fusarium spp.) can also cause diseases on germinating seeds and seedlings, so even if Fusarium is not detected on seed, a seed treatment should still be considered as a beneficial risk management tool to protect against additional threats such as Pythium spp., Rhizoctonia spp., and others.

Seed treatment recommendations for each province are as follows:

Alberta

Threshold – 0%

Actions/Recommendations – Always use healthy seed with no detectable levels of F. graminearum

Always use a registered fungicidal seed treatment that includes Fusarium on the label

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex5210

Saskatchewan

Threshold – 2-3%

Actions/Recommendations – Use a seed treatment for F. graminearum infection in areas where F. graminearum is not established

Threshold – 5%

Actions/Recommendations -Do not use seed when F. graminearum infection levels exceed this threshold in areas where F. graminearum is not established

Threshold – 10%

Actions/Recommendations -Use a seed treatment when total Fusarium spp. infection levels exceed this threshold in areas where F. graminearum is established or when F. graminearum levels are less than 5% in areas where F. graminearum is not established

https://www.saskatchewan.ca/business/agriculture-natural-resources-and-industry/agribusiness-farmers-and-ranchers/crops-and-irrigation/crop-protection/disease/fusarium-head-blight

Manitoba

Threshold – none

Actions/Recommendations – Use clean seed with good germination, seed treatments may improve germination

http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/plant-diseases/print,dealing-with-fusarium-head-blight.html#field

REFERENCES

May, W. E., Fernandez, M. R. and Lafond, G. P. 2010. Effect of fungicidal seed treatments on the emergence, development, and grain yield of Fusarium graminearum-infected wheat and barley seed under field conditions. Can. J. Plant Sci. 90: 89 3_904.

Submitted by

Holly Derksen, Field Crop Pathologist

Barbara Ziesman, Provincial Specialist, Plant Disease, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

Michael Harding, Research Scientist, Plant Pathology, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry

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If I have grain or seed infected with Fusarium graminearum can I plant it?

In Alberta, any grain with detectable levels of F. graminearum cannot be used for seed because F. graminearum is a declared pest under Alberta’s Agricultural Pests Act. Section 22c of the Agricultural Pests Act states: “No person shall for propagation purposes acquire, sell, distribute or use any seed, root, tuber or other vegetable material containing a pest.”

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex5210

In Saskatchewan, F. graminearum is not a regulated pest. However, to reduce the spread of F. graminearum into areas where it is currently not established, seed containing more than 5% F. graminearum is not recommended to be used.

https://www.saskatchewan.ca/business/agriculture-natural-resources-and-industry/agribusiness-farmers-and-ranchers/crops-and-irrigation/crop-protection/disease/fusarium-head-blight

 In Manitoba, there are no restrictions or thresholds for planting F. graminearum-infected seed. However, grain should be tested for germination and Fusarium infection before determining its suitability for seed.

http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/plant-diseases/print,dealing-with-fusarium-head-blight.html#field

Submitted by

Holly Derksen, Field Crop Pathologist, Manitoba Agriculture

Barbara Ziesman, Provincial Specialist, Plant Disease, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

Michael Harding, Research Scientist, Plant Pathology, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

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Will storage of infected grain for over 1 year reduce Fusarium spp. infection and DON levels?

The viability of various Fusarium spp. during storage is dependent on the storage conditions, with temperature playing a key role. Scientific studies have demonstrated that Fusarium infection levels will be reduced when infected grain is stored for at least 6-9 months at a constant temperature of 25 °C and where either relative humidity is >62% or seed moisture content is at least 10-14%. One study demonstrated elimination of Fusarium graminearum when corn seed was stored in sealed containers at 30°C and a seed moisture content of 14%. However, the same is not true for infected grain stored at cooler temperatures (less than 15°C) which are more consistent with the recommendations for grain storage on the Canadian Prairies. At temperatures below 15C the viability of the pathogen (Fusarium spp.) is unchanged, unchanged, especially under drier conditions, making long term storage of infected grain a poor strategy for reducing Fusarium infection levels. Also, if the grain is to be used for seed, prolonged storage of infected grain at higher temperatures and moisture levels may result in reduced vigour and germination rates.

The mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) in Fusarium infected grain is also unaffected by long-term storage, regardless of the temperature. Under safe storage conditions changes in DON levels would be unlikely.

Submitted by

Holly Derksen, Field Crop Pathologist, Manitoba Agriculture

Barbara Ziesman, Provincial Specialist, Plant Disease, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

Michael Harding, Research Scientist, Plant Pathology, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry

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If my grain has high levels of DON can I still use it for seed?

Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a mycotoxin produced by the fungus that causes fusarium head blight (FHB). The importance of determining DON levels in your harvested grain relates to the use of that product for human/animal consumption. DON is poisonous to humans so it is carefully monitored in grain used for food. Additionally, it is poisonous to livestock and can cause feed refusal and poor weight gain in livestock if present above recommended levels.

The relationships between fusarium-damaged kernels (FDK), seed infection by Fusarium spp., and DON levels are not consistent. Just because FHB was observed in the field and/or FDK were observed in a harvested sample it does not necessarily mean that DON is present. Conversely, the lack of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that DON is not present. The latter situation is often the case in years where conditions are conducive for Fusarium infection after anthesis. These DON levels are not accounted for when grading grain is based solely on the percentage of FDK.

While DON levels may affect the suitability of harvested grain as food or feed, seedling health and seed germination is affected by the extent of infection of seed by hyphae of Fusarium graminearum.  Thus, the level of infection by Fusarium spp., including F. graminearum, is a better measure of whether or not the grain should be used for seed in a subsequent season.

Recommendations:

For purposes of replanting, growers should have seed tested by an accredited lab for germination, vigour, and Fusarium infection levels. Based on this information growers can determine whether or not a grain sample is appropriate for planting (with or without a seed treatment) and whether the seeding rate would need to be adjusted. (See future questions in this series that will address whether or not to plant Fusarium-infected seed.)

For purposes of marketing and livestock feeding, growers should have grain tested for DON levels by an accredited lab. Grain companies and buyers are increasingly requesting information on DON levels as opposed to just FDK.

Submitted by:

Holly Derksen, Field Crop Pathologist, Manitoba Agriculture

Barbara Ziesman, Provincial Specialist, Plant Disease, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

Michael Harding, Research Scientist, Plant Pathology, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry

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Is Manitoba’s Winter Wheat Crop Set Up to Survive Winter?

The most common question I receive over the winter months related to winter wheat production is “How is the cold weather/warm weather/lack of snow impacting my winter wheat?” Unfortunately, there are no easy answers over the winter months as we typically have to wait until spring when winter wheat breaks dormancy and stand establishment is known.

However, there can be a few key factors during fall establishment and weather conditions over the winter months that can provide guidance in terms of assessing weather and its impact to Manitoba’s winter wheat prior to the crop actively resuming growth next spring.

First step: record crop condition prior to winter. The crop stage and health/vigour of the crop as it heads into winter will provide an indication if the crop has a high chance of surviving the winter with minimal winterkill or winter injury. Ideally plants should be at the 3 leaf to 1 tiller stage and have well-developed crown tissue (and of course established into adequate standing stubble to ensure snow catch). And remember, the stage of crop development in the fall influences not only winter survival, but also yield potential, crop competitiveness, maturity and the risk of infection with diseases such as rust and fusarium head blight.

Second step: note the weather after seeding and prior to winter. Cool conditions in the fall where plants grow for 4 to 5 weeks, followed by 4 to 8 weeks (October to November) of growth that allow plant to acclimate and vernalize, is the ideal situation (relates back to an optimum seeding date of the first couple weeks of September). Read more about cold acclimation and vernalization here: http://cropchatter.com/winter-wheat-survival-impacted-by-fall-management-decisions-the-weather/. Another key weather factor is open field conditions with little or no snow cover until freeze-up as this allows soil temperatures to gradually decline to freezing levels.

If your winter wheat crop and the fall weather met the above conditions, your crop is likely well-positioned to survive Manitoba’s winter.

Third step: record any weather stresses over the winter months. In the fall, winter wheat producers can take all the necessary steps to set their crop up to survive winter with minimal winterkill or injury. However, it is often the winter/early spring weather in Manitoba that can impact winter survival.  Producers should take notes of cold snaps (how long they lasted, when did they occur) and the snow cover during those events to gauge potential impact to their winter wheat crop.

Regardless of the amount of cold acclimation, we typically need to receive good snow cover to protect the crop from the sustained cold temperatures normally seen in January and February in Manitoba. The ideal situation would be a minimum of 4 inches of trapped snow cover through December to early March to buffer soil temperature changes and provide protection to the crown tissue.

To assist with recording any soil temperature stresses, there is real-time monitoring of soil temperatures in the four winter wheat fields across Manitoba (see http://cropchatter.com/monitoring-real-time-soil-temperatures-in-manitoba-winter-wheat-fields/). The data will also be made available in the near future to the Winter Cereal Survival Model website at https://www.wheatworkers.ca/wcsm.php which can provide additional information on potential injury due to cold soil temperatures.

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

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Can Stripe Rust Overwinter in Manitoba?

Short Answer: Yes.

Long Answer: Normally in Manitoba, the majority of our inoculum blows in from the central US states by what is known as the “Puccinia Pathway”. However, according to Dr. Brent McCallum, a Research Scientist with AAFC in Morden, MB, there was evidence of both stripe and leaf rust overwintering on winter wheat in Manitoba a few years ago but at such low levels it wasn’t a concern. Dr. Kelly Turkington, a Research Scientist with AAFC in Lacombe, AB, also indicated overwintering of stripe rust occurred in Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan in 2010/11 where there were measurable losses. In that particular year, there was a breakdown of resistance in the 2010 planted winter wheat crop and that led to higher infections into 2011.

So yes, stripe rust can overwinter. However, the ability of stripe rust to overwinter in Manitoba, or elsewhere, would depend on factors such as the severity of the winter and snowfall amounts.

If stripe rust is seen in the fall, take note of the variety and its resistance rating. Although nothing can be done about variety selection at this point, in the future consider stripe rust resistance when evaluating and selecting winter wheat varieties. Genetics….it’s a fast and easy way to protect your crop from disease pressure!

If winter weather conditions allow for overwintering of stripe rust, it could provide a local source of inoculum early in the spring – as early as the crop starts actively growing. A cool, wet spring could also favor spread and infection of stripe rust, not only to winter wheat but to other crops such as spring wheat.

If you do see stripe rust this fall in your winter wheat crop, mark those fields as ones to watch as soon as the crop breaks dormancy next spring. If stripe rust does overwinter, a fungicide application may be necessary.

Should a fall fungicide application be considered?

There has been some recent research conducted looking at the yield response and economics of a fall fungicide application in winter wheat. From 2011 to 2013, researchers from AAFC conducted a study across Western Canada looking at a variety of management factors, including one looking at a fall fungicide application. Results were recently reported in Top Crop Manager at http://www.topcropmanager.com/business-management/improving-winter-wheat-19554. The following statements are from the article.

In regards to the fall fungicide treatment, “the study showed some benefit from the fall foliar fungicide treatment, however the increase was small and resulted in decreased net returns,” says Turkington (who was involved with the study). “In areas with confirmed stripe rust in the fall, the yields gains were a bit better. However the cost of application is prohibitive at this point compared to no application. ”

More research is currently underway by Turkington and Dr. Randy Kutcher (University of Saskatchewan) looking at a fall fungicide application, a spring fungicide application at flag leaf emergence, and a dual application (one in the fall and one in the spring).  “The preliminary results after the first two years aren’t showing much of a benefit from the fall foliar fungicide application, similar to our recent study,” Turkington says. “Some of the results suggest a dual fall and spring application does not provide any additional benefit over a spring application in Western Canada.”

So for this fall, don’t pull out the sprayer if you see stripe rust in your winter wheat.  But, be ready to scout in the spring! And look for more updates to current winter wheat research underway across Western Canada.

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist and Holly Derksen, Field Crops Pathologist, Manitoba Agriculture; with assistance from Dr. Brent McCallum, AAFC Morden and Dr. Kelly Turkington, AAFC Lacombe.

Manitoba Agriculture on Twitter: @MBGovAg
Manitoba Agriculture on YouTube: www.youtube.com/ManitobaAgriculture
Manitoba Agriculture website: www.manitoba.ca/agriculture

 

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Are Herbicides Still Effective After a Fall Frost?

Fall is a great time to control perennials such as Canada thistle, perennial sow thistle and dandelion. As temperatures cool, nutrients move from the leaves down into the roots and if a herbicide can be taken up and translocated with those nutrients, it can equal better control. Glyphosate and/or the group 4s are examples of herbicides that provide effective fall control of perennials.

A frost event though, can kill some weeds or can damage leaf tissue which will reduce herbicide uptake and reduce the level of weed control. Within the next few days after the frost, you need to assess the target weeds in the areas that you want to obtain control – are the weeds still growing?  How much leaf tissue has been damaged?

Light frost: A light frost (0 to -3°C) can actually improve weed control by increasing herbicide translocation to the root.  However, duration of the frost also plays a role.  Check your weeds for frost damage if you plan on a herbicide application after a light frost.  Herbicides can only be taken up and translocated by weeds that are healthy and actively growing.

If you do spray – spray in the afternoon when temperatures are warm and sunny, as this will help with herbicide uptake.   You’re looking for daytime temperatures of ~8 to 10°C for at least 2 hours. Use rates appropriate to the stage and time of year – fall applications of glyphosate are recommended at a higher rate than when controlling weeds pre-harvest.

Hard frost: Depending on the damage, a hard frost (≤ -5°C) can put an end to (effective) post-harvest weed control. However, if the plant leaves are still shiny green with minimal leaf tissue damage (i.e. not blackened/brown or brittle) or if less than 40% of the plant has more serious leaf tissue damage (i.e. blackened/brown or brittle) there may still be a window to make a herbicide application. Wait at least 48 hours before assessing frost damage after a hard frost.

If you do spray – read the ‘If you spray’ paragraph above, it still applies.  You need those daytime temperatures to hit ~8 to 10°C for at least 2 hours. In addition, consider your coverage – higher water volumes may improve uptake in more heavily damaged weeds.

One last thing – look at the forecast for the next week following the application.  If daytime temperatures are below 8°C and/or if night-time temperatures are forecasted to continually be below freezing, it may be too late to make the application to get the economic control you are looking for.

Submitted by: Jeanette Gaultier, Provincial Weed Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Visit Manitoba Agriculture Crops webpage for more current topics: www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/seasonal-reports/current-crop-topics.html#agronomy; or the Manitoba Agriculture Weeds webpage for more information on fall control of dandelion and quackgrass: www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/weeds/.

 

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What areas of Manitoba received the most rainfall in early October 2016?

The following precipitation maps are provided by Manitoba Agriculture’s Ag Weather Program.  The displayed map shows Total Accumulated Precipitation from October 2 to October 4, 2016.

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Follow Manitoba Agriculture on Twitter at @MBGovAg to get these seasonal reports and more.

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