Web site offers wheat, barley disease alerts

The U.S. wheat and barley sectors are being aided in their efforts to control fusarium head blight (FHB) — also known as “scab” — by a valuable new Web site.

Launched last fall, “Scab Smart” provides a wealth of information for each small grain class affected by this disease. The direct link to this site is http://www.scabsmart.org.

Scab Smart is designed to serve as a quick guide to integrated strategies that will result in optimum reduction in FHB and its primary associated mycotoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON). Site visitors can go directly to a particular strategy they are interested in (e.g., varietal resistance, fungicides) or to a grain class (e.g., hard red spring wheat, soft red winter wheat, spring barley). There they’ll find specific information — all based on extensive research — regarding useful products and strategies.

Much of the research has been supported by the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI) with funding provided by the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Among the most useful features of Scab Smart are scab forecasting models for each grain class. These models predict disease risk during the crop’s relevant growth stage and aid producers in their fungicide use decision-making process.

This spring, the USWBSI instituted a “scab alert” system through which growers, crop consultants and others could receive improved advanced notice of scab outbreak threats in their respective areas. The alerts are sent out to one’s cell phone or e-mail (depending on user preference), thus allowing for more-timely treatment of fields with fungicides. Producers, crop consultants, grain processors and others can sign up for the alerts by going to http://scabusa.org/fhb_alert.php.

Marcia McMullen, Extension plant pathologist at North Dakota State University, coordinated the development of the Scab Smart Web site and also has been a primary facilitator of its updating since the site was launched last fall. McMullen says the site has attracted substantial usage over the past several months, and she expects its popularity to continue growing as more small grain producers and industry personnel become familiar with it.

In addition to the direct link to Scab Smart at http://www.scabsmart.org, the site may also be accessed by logging on to the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative’s site —http://www.scabusa.org — and clicking on the Scab Smart link under the ‘Grower/Industry Tools’ tab.

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