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More wheat diseases this year seen in Wisconsin

A University of Wisconsin plant pathologist says more farmers are reporting diseases in wheat crops. 

Dr. Damon Smith tells Brownfield it’s been about four years since Wisconsin growers have seen stripe rust, and that’s not all. “In addition to stripe rust, we’re also seeing head scab show up now. Of course, we’re outside the window of fungicide applications at this point for both of those diseases as the pre-harvest intervals will not take effect on those.”

Smith says farmers might want to use data from this year to decide what wheat varieties to plant next year. “It’s going to be a good year to look at disease ratings once the variety trials start to come out and making some decisions for 2025 based on those disease ratings that we’re seeing.”

Smith says many fungicides can’t be used this close to harvesting time, and even if allowed, wouldn’t help much. “In that southern half of the state where we’re past the optimal timing anyway for both of the diseases, so even if you did try to spray, you’re really not going to be able to slow it down at this point.”

Smith says stripe rust doesn’t overwinter well in northern states like Wisconsin and must be blown in from the deep south, and this year’s weather was perfect for bringing it back to Wisconsin.

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