We have begun our early season wheat disease assessments at the winter wheat variety trials in Wisconsin. Our approach for disease assessments follows the recommendations we made in the March 26, 2009 Wisconsin Crop Manager article, entitled, “Do I Need to Spray a Foliar Fungicide in Wheat in 2009?” These assessments are also a part of the thesis research for Karen Lackermann, Plant Pathology, to improve the decision management system for controlling wheat diseases in Wisconsin.
At Janesville and Lancaster, wheat growth and development currently ranges from Feekes 4-5 (pseudostem erection; Zadoks 30) to Feekes 6 (1st detectable node; Zadoks 31). In our assessments at those two locations, we have found symptoms of the Septoria leaf blotch complex, leaf rust, and stripe rust. The level of disease is relatively low and specifically, we have only noted symptoms in the lower canopy and nothing on the newest emerged leaf. At this range of growth stages, we do not recommend the use of foliar fungicides for Septoria or the rust diseases. Scouting over the next two weeks, however, will help to determine if these diseases are increasing in the canopy. Furthermore, the use of the thresholds we outlined in our Wisconsin Crop Manager article can help determine the need for a foliar fungicide as we move into flag leaf emergence.