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February 25, 2014

Wheat and barley growers asked to complete head scab survey

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Wheat and barley producers in 17 states are being asked in a survey to tell the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative how well the latest Fusarium head blight management practices are understood and applied.

Fusarium head blight, or head scab, is a fungal disease that infects the heads of small grain crops, such as wheat and barley. It lowers grain yield and produces mycotoxins, or compounds that are toxic to livestock when consumed at certain levels. Head scab is most likely to cause severe damage in areas with wet, mild weather as wheat and barley start to flower.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service is working with the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative to distribute the survey to more than 16,500 wheat and barley growers nationwide.

According to Purdue Extension plant pathologist Kiersten Wise, the university participates in head scab research and works with the initiative, and will use the survey results to help focus research and Extension efforts.

"Purdue conducts research on Fusarium head blight, or scab, and dispenses research results to Indiana farmers, including information about improved management practices," she said. "This survey will help us understand more about the impact of the disease and where we need to concentrate research and Extension in Indiana."

The U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative is composed of stakeholders in the cereal industry, including Extension workers, researchers, growers, fungicide companies, millers, brewers and feed producers. It aims to minimize economic loss from yield reduction and mycotoxins by providing information to growers on the best head scab management techniques.

Once collected, the survey results will be analyzed at both the national and state levels and shared with Extension specialists and researchers in each state, who will pass the information on to local growers.

Questions will include those about operation size, market classes of grains produced, major varieties of cereals grown, the use of forecasting websites and where producers get their information about scab management. All of the results will be anonymous, and the survey will request no identifying information from respondents.

More information about the initiative's work on head scab is available at http://www.scabusa.org.

Purdue Extension offers information about head scab. Diseases of Wheat: Fusarium Head Blight is available for free download via The Education Store at http://www.the-education-store.com. Search for "BP-33-W." Head scab information also is available in Purdue Extension's Wheat Field Guide, which also can be ordered from the store for $5 per copy by searching for "ID-448." 

Writer: Emma Hopkins, 765-494-8402, hopkine@purdue.edu 

Source: Kiersten Wise, 765-496-2170, kawise@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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