As farmers are combining their grain crops an increase in some diseases could impact their bottom line. University of Kentucky Extension Plant Pathologist Carl Bradley says a number of diseases that affect the heads of crops like wheat, barley and rye, have been observed in Kentucky the last few weeks.
“Fusarium Head blight, Glume Blotch and Loose Smut --of those three I think the most important is fusarium head blight, we sometimes call it head scab. It’s important for farmers to know if they have the problem or not, unfortunately it might be too late to scout as the combines are rolling,” he says.
Bradley says the disease doesn’t hurt yield as much as it impacts grain quality--which will be inspected as farmers sell their product. Bradley suggests farmers increase their combine’s fan speed to blow out kernels infected with the pathogen. Grains, like wheat, affected by head blight will appear “bleached” in color. Bradley says overall impact won’t be known for another month. // The last 10 years, production of wheat has resulted in sales ranging from $74 million dollars to over $300 million annually for the state.