Use fungicide seed treatments to improve wheat health
Management of Soil- and Seedborne Diseases
Four strategies can be used in combination to manage soil- and seedborne diseases of wheat:
- seed treatments,
- cleaned seed,
- resistant varieties, and
- crop rotation.
Seed treatments are important for several reasons:
- They control seed-transmitted pathogens that may be surface-borne on the seed or internally seedborne. In addition, they control soilborne pathogens such as Bipolaris, Fusarium, Pythium, and Rhizoctonia that cause root and crown rots and seedling damping off and blights. Systemic seed treatments also provide additional protection against fall foliar diseases.
- In addition to controlling diseases, fungicide-insecticide combination seed treatments control insect pests such as wireworms, Hessian fly, and fall season aphids.
- By controlling seedling damping off, seed treatments improve stand establishment and result in healthy, vigorous seedlings.
It is preferable to buy certified treated seed or have it cleaned and treated by a commercial seed conditioner. If seed is treated on-farm, it is essential to clean it before treating. Cleaning seed before treating is especially necessary if the seed-transmitted diseases listed above were present in the field during the growing season.
For the seed treatment to be effective, ensure thorough, uniform coverage. If possible, use a broad spectrum systemic fungicide or fungicide-insecticide combination product. For a list of seed treatment fungicides for control of soil- and seedborne diseases of wheat, see the table of Wheat Seed Treatment Fungicides from the UNL 2012 Guide for Weed Management with Insecticide and Fungicide Information. A more comprehensive list of seed treatment products for control of diseases and insect pests of wheat can be found at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Pesticide Registrations website.
For more information on diseases affecting grain and seed quality in wheat, see Fungal Diseases Affectng Grain and Seed Quality in Wheat (EC1874).
Resistant varieties can be used in combination with seed cleaning and seed treatments to more effectively manage soil- and seedborne diseases of wheat.
Importance of Using Clean/Certified, Treated Seed
The importance of using clean/certified, treated seed cannot be overemphasized. Clean/certified, treated seed optimizes the chances of obtaining high yields. Using farmer-saved or bin-run seed is likely to result in poor variety purity, a low germination percentage, poor stand establishment, and disease, insect, and weed problems. The result will be reduced yield and poor grain quality. Total loss may result if grain is heavily contaminated with fungal spores. Additional costs may be incurred in treating for diseases, insects, and weeds resulting from use of poor quality seed. In terms of dollars, the return from using clean/certified, treated seed will almost always exceed the cost of the seed. Using clean/certified, treated seed is a form of insurance that is definitely worth the cost.