Should Manitoba growers be worried about the early reports of stripe rust in Alberta?

Submitted by Holly Derksen, MAFRD Field Crop Pathologist

Probably not.

Stripe rust has been reported in winter wheat fields in Alberta this spring (http://www.producer.com/2015/04/stripe-rust-in-alberta-winter-wheat/). This could indicate that the fungus overwintered on the crop. Overwintering of stripe rust in Canada also occurred in 2011, a year where there were measurable losses from stripe rust in both winter and spring wheat in Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan. That year a breakdown in resistance in the 2010 planted winter wheat crop led to higher infections leading into 2011. Persistent snow cover allowed for good overwintering conditions and a cool, wet spring favoured spread and infection of the stripe rust fungus. Growers in Alberta are being encouraged to vigilantly scout for the spread and proliferation of this disease this spring, especially in varieties that do not carry any resistance. Reports from Montana and Oregon have also indicated an early outbreak of stripe rust with fungicide applications being recommended in many cases.

In Manitoba, the majority of our inoculum blows in from the central US states by what is known as the “Puccinia Pathway”. Progress of this inoculum, as well as other cereal rusts, is documented on the USDA’s website (http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=9757). To date, there have been a number of stripe rust detections with the furthest north located near Omaha, Nebraska. There have been no reports of stripe rust in Manitoba, however, inoculum can move quickly so growers should continue to scout their winter wheat and newly emerging spring wheat for early infections. The ideal timing for a fungicide application for protection against stripe rust in wheat is at the flag leaf stage. If rust infections are only noticed later in the year, especially past the flowering stage, a fungicide is likely unwarranted as the yield effect will be minimal.

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