Diseases may hurt saved wheat seed

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COLUMBUS – The wheat crop will come off earlier than normal this year, but not without some serious grain quality issues, according to Ohio State plant pathologist Patrick Lipps.

Diseases. Several diseases that affect grain quality also impact the ability of the crop to be saved as seed.

Most importantly, head scab and Stagonospora glume blotch are widespread in the state and will affect seed quality and germination, Lipps said.

Protection. Any grain that will be saved for seed will need to be thoroughly cleaned to remove all small, shriveled seed.

The seed will need to be stored under dry conditions until planting time to avoid mold and further deterioration of the seed.

Air cleaning will not be sufficient to remove all diseased seed, but a gravity table will do a much better job if set to clean out sufficient lightweight seed, Lipps cautioned.

Growers that do not have the facilities to adequately clean seed, store the seed and have it treated with an effective fungicide probably should not save their seed this year.

Fungus. The fungi that cause head scab and Stagonospora glume blotch will remain on the seed during storage and when planted may cause increased problems with seedling stand establishment.

Fungi that cause both diseases can kill seedlings under environmental conditions favorable for seedling blight.

Additionally, Stagonospora nodorum, the fungus that causes glume blotch, will produce spores on the young plans in the fall that may contribute to the overall level of Stagonospora leaf blotch next spring.

Therefore, all saved seed will need to be treated with as seed treatment that contains fungicides effective against these fungi.

Controls. Dividend XL, Raxil MD, Raxil XT, Raxil-Thiram have excellent activity against Stagonospora on seed and also provide good control of seed borne Fusarium from head scab.

If additional protection from Fusarium is needed you can choose to apply LSP Flowable with the other seed treatment product, Lipps said.

LSP Flowable is very effective in eliminating Fusarium from seed.

Test first. Lastly, all seed should be tested for germination before planting.

The final germination test should be run on treated seed because treatment will frequently improve germination.

It is not wise to plant seed with germination percentages much under 80 percent, Lipps warned.

A germination test is an indication of the level of possible problems that may arise from using poor quality seed and it can be reflected in the yield of the crop.

Do not take chances with poor seed, the risks are too expensive, Lipps said.

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