GFM Network News


Fusarium rule change applauded

Cereal and seed organizations are hailing the province’s decision to remove fusarium graminearum from the Pest Nuisance Control Regulation of the Agricultural Pests Act. “This news has been a long time coming,” said Alberta Wheat chair Todd Hames. “FHB (fusarium head blight) is well established in Alberta and since it’s spread through airborne spores, we […] Read more

On the far left is sound red spring wheat seed. Next is a ‘not a fusarium- damaged’ kernel — it does not have sufficient seed discolouration
or fibrous fungal growth, also called mycelial growth, to qualify as a fusarium-damaged kernel. Next is fusarium-damaged kernels with light symptoms (mycelial growth is visible around the germ and in the broad crease, and the seed looks shrivelled and chalky white). On the far right are fusarium-damaged kernels with severe symptoms (abundant mycelial growth is visible on both seed surfaces, with some pink discolouration at the germ. The seed has a shrivelled, chalky white appearance).

Proper combine adjustment pays off now and later

You don’t want fusarium-damaged kernels lowering grade or spreading spores, says crop specialist

Producers need to make combine adjustments to prevent kernels damaged by fusarium head blight from going into storage, says a provincial crop specialist. Harvest management of fusarium-damaged kernels (FDK) will improve the grade of a cereal crop, said Neil Whatley. “Many FDKs — especially in wheat — are smaller, lighter in weight, and more shrunken […] Read more


Premature bleaching of infected spikelet in wheat.

Don’t let your guard down — fusarium still a risk

Dry weather greatly reduced the incidence of the fungal disease last year, 
but the threat is likely greater than ever

Producers should be on the lookout for fusarium head blight this year, even though the incidence of the fungal disease was down in 2017. “Forecasting head blight is really quite challenging,” said Mike Harding, a research scientist and plant pathologist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. Read more: Provincial legislation isn’t helping fusarium battle, say seed growers […] Read more

Fusarium head blight on wheat spike.

Provincial legislation isn’t helping fusarium battle, say seed growers

Grower groups argue a zero-tolerance approach is the wrong way to reduce its spread in Alberta

Fusarium graminearum is listed as a pest in the province, and that’s causing trouble for the crop industry. “Now that it’s in the pest act, it’s hard to get it out of the pest act,” said Ward Oatway, chair of the Alberta Seed Growers Association and owner of Oatway Seeds in Lacombe. His association, the […] Read more


Premature bleaching of infected spikelet in wheat.

Now is the time to create next year’s battle plan for fusarium

Scouting this year is the first step in limiting the impact of the cereal disease next year

Although it’s likely too late to apply a fungicide for fusarium graminearum, producers can still use the information they gather about the outbreak to plan for subsequent growing seasons. Fusarium graminearum is considered the most important fusarium head blight (FHB) species due to its aggressiveness and production of deoxynivalenol or DON (a.k.a. vomitoxin), said crop […] Read more

Tips when feeding unharvested crops

Digestibility, nutrient levels, and presence of mycotoxins are factors to consider before swath grazing or baling

Using overwintered cereal crops for swath grazing this spring — or baling for use as greenfeed next fall and winter — is an option but raises some concerns. “Typically, protein and energy contents are lower in the spring compared to the fall,” said provincial beef and forage specialist Barry Yaremcio. “Digestibility of the feeds can […] Read more


Given the severity of fusarium infestation across Western Canada, crop scientist Brian Beres says it’s puzzling why more farmers aren’t growing winter wheat to disrupt the disease cycle.

Fusarium is tough, but you can fight back, says crop scientist

Planting winter wheat and bumping seeding rates can help, but fungicides aren’t a silver bullet

The forecast is for more fusarium — and possibly a lot more if it’s another wet year. “As you know, the severity and incidence of fusarium is actually on the rise — if we continue to get the weather that we’re getting, we can expect the same,” Agriculture Canada research scientist Brian Beres said during […] Read more

Don’t delay if you haven’t lined up seed

All that rain last year has elevated fusarium levels and lowered germination rates

The quality of cereal seed in Alberta is down — and disease pressure is up — across almost all classes, say players at the front lines of the upcoming growing season’s seed outlook. “Disease levels are a little higher this year and that’s having an adverse effect on quality,” said Trevor Nysetvold of BioVision, a […] Read more


BioVision’s data shows an increase in fusarium infection across barley, durum, oats and wheat.

Battling fusarium requires new initiatives

Both the grain sector and government need to respond to rising fusarium rates, says the president of Alberta Seed Growers. One of the first things to do is recognize that FHB has become a significant problem and then create policies that do not unnecessarily penalize producers, said Glenn Logan. Read more: Don’t delay if you haven’t […] Read more

Fusarium graminearum produces DON or vomitoxin, which makes wheat unfit for milling and sees barley rejected for malt or even for feed.

Fusarium head blight infections hit record high in 2016

Almost one-quarter of cereal samples from 2016 have tested positive for fusarium head blight — a 10 per cent jump from 2014’s previous record high

Fusarium head blight continued its devastating march across Alberta last summer, and shows no sign of slowing down. “It’s become something that’s well established in the southern part of the province, and the situation is starting to change elsewhere in the province, especially central and northern Alberta,” said Kelly Turkington, a research scientist with Agriculture […] Read more