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Fusarium (Microdochium nivale)

Fusarium (Microdochium nivale) can have a big impact on the emergence of crops. It is a seed-borne disease which affects winter-sown cereals. Wheat is affected most, followed by oats then barley. If the seed is heavily contaminated with the fungus, and seed is sown in cold and wet conditions, the impact on germination can be severe.

The disease can contaminate the grain during the period up to harvest when conditions may be cool and wet. Some fungicides applied to the head may reduce levels on the grain, but resistance to strobilurin fungicides is now widespread. At harvest, the seed may have high levels of contamination.  Seed sown in cold and wet seed-beds may be slow to emerge. These conditions are also ideal for the fungus to germinate and attack the seedlings. This can have a major impact on crop establishment.

The two fungi responsible for causing Microdochium seedling blight in wheat and barley, Microdochium nivale and Microdochium majus, have become more prevalent over the last two years. Microdochium nivale and Microdochium majus are fungi which will colonise the heads of cereals in cool wet summers. These fungi are primarily a threat to winter wheat seed since they can reduce germination and cause a seedling blight in winter wheat. They are not known to produce mycotoxins, unlike other fungi known as Fusariums which can be present on cereals.

Related information

In addition to the link below, visit the Crop Health Update webpage for monthly advice about how to control this disease.


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