Fusarium Head Blight in Barley
By Nikki Zahradka-Bylin / July 2019
Nikki is the Mid West Regional Agronomy Manager based in NE North Dakota. Nikki has a Bachelors Degree in Crop and Weed science and Plant Protection. She has worked for Anheuser-Busch since November 2009.
Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) is a fungal disease that can be found in barley. FHB can cause sterile kernels and mycotoxins specifically deoxynivalenol or DON (vomitoxin). Maltsters have firm specifications for the threshold for the DON levels allowed in barley. Therefore barley growers must take preventative percautions to avoid FHB and DON from getting into their barley.
Fusarium head blight disease cycle. (Andrew Friskop and Shaobin Zhong, NDSU)
Intergated approaches are always best for fungal disease management:
- Seeding a less suseceptable variety will help reduce the chances of FHB in barley. So far no true resistance has been found in barley.
- Crop rotation is a good way to reduce the risk of FHB, inoculumn for FHB can stay/live on cereal crop residue and corn residue.
- Tillage: If rotation isn’t an option using tillage to bury residue is another option.
- Some fungicides (Triazoles) have shown effectiveness in reduction of FHB levels. Timing of these fungicides is critical. Research has shown ideal timing for FHB applications in barley, is when the mainstem of the plant is at full head emergence, but before elongation from the flag leaf.
Barley growth stages from left are boot stage, one-half spike emergence, full spike, one to three days after full spike and three to seven days after full spike. (Andrew Friskop, NDSU)
FHB forecasting models exist to help predict potential infections. http://www.wheatscab.psu.edu/ While these are helpful tools you should still scout fields near heading to identify moisture in the canopy and local humidity. Disease is more present in prolonged wet, warm, humid conditions. If yield potential is high, local weather is favorable for infection or inoculum is present in residue, it’s recommended to spray a preventative fungicide for FHB.
It’s important to manage FHB to avoid possible high DON levels in your barley. If you have questions consult your Anheuser-Busch agronomist.
For additional information: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/crops/fusarium-head-blight-scab-of-small-grains#section-4