Canada – Different expectations on mycotoxins this year

Date of publication : 9/2/2005
Source : Farmscape
Manitoba Anticipates Increased Fusarium Losses

Manitoba Agriculture and Food and Rural Initiatives warns preliminary assessments indicate cereal farmers will face substantial losses this year from fusarium head blight. Fusarium head blight is a fungal infection that primarily affects cereal crops.

The disease reduces crop quality and yield and is of particular concern to livestock producers because certain strains produce a mycotoxin that will impact performance, especially in swine.

Farm Production Extension Pathologist David Kaminski says conditions in Manitoba were ideal this year for disease development.

"We knew that the risk factors were high when the spring crop was flowering, those factors being heat and humidity coincidental with flowering and some rainfall in the week leading up to the period when the crop is flowering.

Those factors were in place through much of the province through an extended portion of that period in the early part of July.

I guess we can't give hard numbers at the moment but we do know that the winter wheat crop was especially hard hit and some of the first spring wheat that has been harvested, predominantly in the southwest, has been grading a number three.

That's not good news.

It indicates a significant level of fusarium infection in the crop.

In the Red River Valley, there's a lot of cropland that just did not get seeded or was flooded and later not harvested so there it's going to be difficult to assess how much loss was due to disease and how much was due to weather alone".

Kaminski says we won't have a firm handle on the situation until the harvest is complete. He says the assessment of damage is ongoing and we have a few more weeks to go before we come to grip with what we're dealing with.

Saskatchewan Expects Extremely Light Fusarium Losses

Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food reports levels of fusarium head blight infection across the province appear to be extremely low this year.

Fusarium head blight is a fungal infection that primarily affects cereal crops.

Fusarium graminearum is of particular concern because, in addition to reducing grain quality and yield, it produces a mycotoxin which reduces the performance of livestock, especially swine.

Provincial Plant Disease Specialist Penny Pearse says early in the season there was a lot of heat and humidity, which tends to favor disease development, but by the time the crops reached the critical flowering stage the weather was much drier.

"In terms of the disease that's been showing up, I think, in 2004 and 2005 overall we've had low severity levels and we're looking at generally less than one percent severity.

When I say that what I mean is, if we were to take all the grain on average in the province and looked at it, less than one percent of those kernels would actually be having any kind of fusarium species present.

That's really good news for Saskatchewan.

We saw higher levels in 2001.

It was a wetter season and then we were looking at levels of three to four percent primarily in the southeastern regions.

I would say that on the eastern side of our province, bordering on to Manitoba, especially our southeast, is where we have had most of the fusarium head blight showing up however we have seen scattered amounts across the province but overall very low severities.

We tend to see levels of fusarium drop as they approach the western regions of the province".

Pearse says the incidence of the mycotoxin producing fusarium graminearum has been particularly low.

She says, while the figures for 2005 aren't yet available, 2004 numbers indicate graminearum accounted for 17 percent of the fusarium infection in wheat and three percent in barley with the rest of the infection resulting from non toxin producing strains.
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