Wheat flag smut is a fungal disease caused by the fungus Urocystis tritici. Its spores are found in the soil, and they germinate just before wheat’s fall emergence. The fungus will violate the wheat as it emerges, then goes dormant along with the wheat plant during the winter months. In the spring it will grow with the plant, showing up eventually as leaf lesions and reproducing black, powdery spores. The spores can live for up to four years in a location and can be spread by machinery, wind, or can even survive on harvested seeds from a field.
Erick De Wolf, plant pathologist in the Kansas State University Department of Plant Pathology, said wheat flag smut has so far been a minor problem this year, with a few places that saw noticeable yield losses from the disease.
De Wolf said that most fields where it was detected, it was detected at low levels. And the leading control method in stopping wheat flag smut in its tracks is applying fungicide seed treatments before planting this fall.
Infection occurs as the young wheat seedlings germinate and emerge from the soil. So there’s just one chance of infection per year, he explained. If we can reduce or eliminate that chance at that early seedling stage, it can go a long way toward control of the disease,” De Wolf said. And, when you consider that wheat flag smut spores can survive in the soil for up to four years, it’s worth taking the opportunity this first year to stop it before it spreads.
Source: http://www.hpj.com /