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More head scab-resistant wheat varieties now available

As wheat growers prepare to plant their
crop this fall, they are encouraged to choose varieties that are resistant to
head scab.

Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University
Extension plant pathologist, said that more varieties are available with good
head scab resistance and high yield potential.

“In the past, there were very few
Ohio-grown winter wheat varieties with decent scab resistance, and some of
those varieties yielded poorly or did not grow well under our conditions,” said
Paul, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and
Development Center. “Today, we have far more varieties with very good scab
resistance in combination with very good yield potential.”

Based on results of the 2010 Ohio Wheat
Performance Trials, more than 20 percent of the varieties evaluated were
considered resistant and more that 38 percent moderately resistant, for a total
of 58 percent of the varieties rated at least moderately resistant. 

Head scab, a disease that attacks wheat
during the flowering stage under wet, humid conditions, was a severe problem
for growers this year. Head scab incidence ranged anywhere from three percent
to 60 percent throughout Ohio’s wheat crop. In addition, vomitoxin
contamination of the grain was a big problem with less than 1 parts per million
to 18 parts per million recorded at the grain elevators. 

Paul said that choosing head
scab-resistant varieties can help in managing the disease in years when
environmental conditions may increase the potential for outbreaks. 

“No variety is completely resistant or
immune to scab, so if conditions are wet and humid during flowering, even
varieties considered resistant will develop scab and become contaminated with
vomitoxin. However, disease and toxin levels will be lower in resistant
varieties than in susceptible varieties,” said Paul. “In addition, with a scab
resistant variety, growers will likely see greater benefit from the use of
fungicides if scab develops.”

Paul emphasizes that growers should
place scab-resistant varieties high on their list of priorities when preparing
for next year’s wheat season.

The Ohio State University Extension
provided a table of wheat varieties tested this year, with percent resistance to head
scab, as well as a copy of the wheat trials.

Compiled by Candace Pollock, Ohio State
University Extension

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