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Stripe Rust Detected in IA Winter Wheat

Agronomic Update

Stripe-Rust Found In Seed Field of Winter Wheat
May 27th, 2016

Matt Leavitt, Albert Lea Seed Agronomist
Matt Helgeson, Albert Lea Seed Staff

We recently visited an organic seed grower in Jefferson, IA who reported his field of winter wheat looked diseased and yellowed across the whole 130 acres.  
After visiting the field, taking samples, and conferring with University of Minnesota professionals, we identified Stripe Rust as the culprit.

Stripe Rust is a fungal disease of wheat that blows in as spores from overwintering sites in the Southern United States.  It causes characteristic yellow/orange pustules along the veins of the leaves in stripes which can join and form whole areas of chlorotic & necrotic tissue on wheat leaves. It does not overwinter in the Upper-Midwest nor survive in the tissue but it can cause minor to severe yield loss under the right conditions. It thrives under cool, wet conditions like we've had this spring and has been widespread in the Upper-Midwest this year.

Close-up of Stripe Rust in the field

Yield loss can be as high as 40-75% if the disease infects the plant prior to heading or it severely infects the upper leaves (including flag leaf) at flowering or during grain fill.  
Stripe Rust is primarily a problem in winter wheat due to cool & moist early season conditions.  Depending on the variety, spring wheat may also be susceptible but it  is generally protected by hotter & drier conditions as the crop develops.  
Planting resistant varieties is your most effective control method for managing stripe rust.  We noticed on our scouting trip that Emerson Winter Wheat was far more resistant to stripe rust than Expedition.  Foliar fungicides (organic or conventional; depending on the crop status) can have some efficacy on the disease when the crop is in boot stage/flag leaf stage.  However, if the disease is already present you may be too late to counteract the damage.
Infected crops are safe to utilize for forage (though quality may suffer) or you could work up the crop & plant soybeans.  

Severe Stripe Rust Infection in the field.  Note the yellowed flag leaves

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