Mobile Wheat Scab Alerts Available

May 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

The US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative ( just launched SCAB ALERT. With scab alert producers, crop consultants, grain processors and others in the wheat industry can stay up-to-date on the scab situation, even when they are away from their fields and computers. SCAB ALERT was developed to provide advance notice of the risk of a scab outbreak by way of cell phone to those who sign up for the service. You can sign up by going to and you will receive real-time alerts via cell phone and/or email based on the commentaries provided on the scab risk tool by state specialists. You can customize SCAB ALERT to meet your needs by choosing what you want to receive (by regions) and how it should be sent to you (cell phone, email or both).

Head scab is an important disease of wheat in years when warm, wet weather persists during the heading and blossoming period of wheat. Scab is only one of several diseases of small grains caused by species of Fusarium.

The severity of scab infection varies greatly from year to year. Severe infection occurs during the flowering stage and shortly afterward when wet weather prevails. Two to three days of light rain during this period will initiate epidemics. If the weather is dry during this critical period, the grain crop will be essentially scab-free.

In Ohio, during years of favorable weather, the incidence of infected heads has been as high as 100 percent in some fields. In these cases over 50 percent of the spikelets have been destroyed. Other affects of scab include floret sterility, poor test weights due to shriveled grain and yield loss. In general, oats are less susceptible to scab than either wheat or barley.

Scab is important, not only because it reduces yield, but it reduces the quality and feeding value of the grain. The fungi causing scab may produce chemicals in the infected grain which are toxic to livestock and humans. Vomitoxin, or deoxynivalenol, contamination has been a problem in wheat in Ohio during years with scab epidemics.

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