Low instances of crop disease so far in 2018

By Tim Kalinowski


If there is one good thing about the hot, mostly dry weather so far in southern Alberta, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry crop specialist Mark Cutts says it is likely there is very low risk of crop disease.

“In southern Alberta conditions are quite dry,” says Cutts. “Under dry conditions, the disease risk tends to go down. I haven’t heard a lot about disease in southern Alberta, and I am assuming the risk is low because of the weather conditions in southern Alberta this summer.”

Even big buzz diseases from 2017 like Wheat streak mosaic virus do not, so far, seem to be much of a problem this year in southern Alberta, says Cutts. He does caution this is preliminary information, and  a lot of these diseases will be surveyed for officially a little closer to harvest time to try to ground-proof today’s casual observations.

“Wheat streak mosaic is one that can pop up depending on when we have that green bridge between winter wheats and spring wheats,” he states, “but on the disease front it has been fairly quiet given the type of growing conditions this year.”

The same low risk seems to apply for Fusarium head-blight and Clubroot too, states Cutts. In fact, the only disease which may bear additional watching this year from farmers in southern Alberta is potentially Ergot, he says— depending on what state of flowering the crop was in earlier this summer when localized storm fronts passed through.

“Rains at the right time release those fungal spores to infect the plant; that can happen if everything lines up condition-wise,” he says. “I can say we haven’t had any reports of it yet, but, again, that becomes more obvious as we get closer to maturity. When the producers are out at harvest time, and they see the Ergot body instead of the head, that will be their indicator.”

Photo courtesy bioweb.uwlax.edu
While disease risk is low in southern Alberta, Ergot (above) may be one to watch out for this fall.