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Fusarium Head Blight in Rotations

 Farming Smarter joined Dr. Randy Kutcher, University of Saskatchewan Chair in Cereal and Flax Crop Pathology, to study fusarium head blight in rotations.  

The project:is one of four pillars of his program at USask and takes place at 10 sites in western Canada​. Each site has six to nine crops and are no till. 

The main object is to determine the optimum crop sequence to minimize FHB in wheat and durum. At Farming Smarter we have four different cereal lots in our crop matrix for the study. 

Lot A was diverse, Lot B was less diverse, and Lot C was not diverse at all. In each lot we added cereal to the lots in a three-year study. Lot A had two oilseeds and pulse; lot B had no oilseed and pulse; lot C had no oilseeds and no pulse. Lot D, like Lot B, was in the middle when it came to diversity and had oilseed but no pulse. When you have cereal, pulse and oilseed, you have maximum diversity.  Here is a chart of the results we encountered.   


Preliminary findings showed that crop diversity and weather conditions affect fusarium spp. When comparing treatments A, B and C; using a non diverse crop rotation can increase the risk of FHB. Crop rotations that include cereals and pulses or cereals and oilseeds are not diverse enough for maximum disease mitigation.  

The first and second years of the experiment had more hours during the anthesis period when the weather was conducive to the development of FHB.  Lot C sativus infection differed between treatments B and C and between A and C. Recording weather parameters (temperature and RH/ precipitation) through the season can help assess the risk of FHB infection.  

To summarize good rotation decreases fusarium and increases yield while improving soil health. 

Visit the Crop Sequence project page to find more information and a YouTube playlist on this project.