Researchers try to get handle on wheat rust problems

Linda Benedict  |  4/5/2005 1:15:04 AM

Stripe rust, a fungal disease, has begun causing problems for Louisiana wheat growers. And LSU AgCenter researchers are developing a disease forecasting system to try to head off an epidemic.

"We are evaluating fungicides such as Tilt, Stratego, Headline, Quilt and Quadris for control of stripe rust across Louisiana," said Boyd Padgett, plant pathologist, adding that the disease is " driven by cool nights and moisture."
Steve Harrison, wheat breeder, said the physiology of the disease may be changing - making it even more of a problem.

"The rule of thumb is that when the nighttime temperatures reach 65 degrees, stripe rust goes away," Harrison said. " But it didn't this year."

Researchers are screening wheat varieties for resistance to the disease. Excellent stripe rust data was collected in wheat variety trials conducted at the Macon Ridge Research Station in Winnsboro this past spring by LSU AgCenter researcher Rick Mascagni. This data will enable growers to choose high-yielding resistant varieties this fall. New resistant varieties adapted to Louisiana are being developed in the wheat breeding program coordinated by Harrison.

Stripe rust is a disease that causes individual yellow pustules, usually at the top of every leaf. Later, pustules will develop in rows giving the characteristic of resistant stripe appearance. Leaves, sheaths, stems and glumes may be attacked. The outbreak of stripe rust in Louisiana wheat fields this year was the worst it has been in years, researchers said. • A. Denise Coolman

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