There's a new enemy looming in the wheat fields and it has plant pathologists and wheat breeders on their toes.
The villain is bacterial blight and it showing up in more and more fields, Syngenta AgriPro wheat breeder Jon Rich told attendees at a field day at the company's research facility in Junction City on May 23.
"Oklahoma saw a lot of bacterial blight last year and it is being seen in fields all the way to South Dakota," Rich said. "At this time, there is no protection against it in the chemical arsenal. That makes it problematic."
He said that bacterial blight is a seed borne disease but it can also live on residues in fields. It is a foliar disease but is caused by bacteria rather than the fungus diseases that are most commonly seen in Kansas wheat fields.
Protection against infestation
The best protection growers have against infestation is varieties that have shown good resistance to bacterial blight, which includes the relatively new Syngenta variety, SY Wolf, introduced two years ago.
He said it is one more reason that researchers are excited about Wolf, which has also shown good resistance to tan spot, septoria and other fungal foliar disease that are particularly a problem in wheat on wheat no-till farming practices and in fields with heavy residues.
"Bacterial blight is just something that we have to keep an eye on at this time," Rich said. "I bring it up today because I want all of you to be aware of it, that it could be a bigger problem down the road."
Rich referred growers to Kansas State University pathologist Bob Bowden for questions on bacterial blight, how to recognize it and how to help prevent its spread.