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The Efficacy of Spraying Organic Fungicides to Control Fusarium Head Blight Infection in Spring Wheat

Abstract

There is a high demand for locally grown wheat for baking purposes throughout the Northeast. One major obstacle for growers is Fusarium head blight (FHB) infection of grain. This disease is currently the most important disease facing organic and conventional grain growers in the Northeast, resulting in loss of yield, shriveled grain, and most importantly, mycotoxin contamination. A vomitoxin called Deoxynivalenol (DON) is considered the primary mycotoxin associated with FHB. Eating contaminated grain with DON concentrations greater than 1ppm poses a health risk to both humans and livestock. The FHB spores are usually transported by air currents and can infect plants at flowering through grain fill. Fungicide applications have proven to be relatively effective at controlling FHB in other spring wheat growing regions. Limited work has been done in this region on the optimum timing for a fungicide application to spring wheat specifically to minimize DON. In addition, there are limited studies evaluating organic approved biofungicides, biochemicals, or biostimulants for management of this disease. In April of 2016, the UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program initiated a spring wheat fungicide trial to determine the efficacy and timing of fungicide application to reduce FHB infection on cultivars with varying degrees of disease susceptibility. This project is funded through an USDA NIFA Organic Research and Education Grant (2014-05379)

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