Though relatively small, UNL's Department of Plant Pathology has played a significant role in the discovery of many economically important plant diseases, including most recently, a new fungal pathogen causing Fusarium head blight of wheat. This article is from the 2019 Nebraska Crop Management Conference Proceedings.
The occurrence and distribution of plant pathogens are long known to be strongly influenced by the environment. We see evidence of this concept every season on specialty crops in western Nebraska, and 2018 was no exception.
While diseases are one of the three biggest yield-limiting factors of sunflower production, there was little information on how to identify and manage them until university plant pathologists joined in a collaborative effort to conduct research and develop educational resources.
As growers in western Nebraska look at new pulse crops to integrate into their rotations, a UNL plant pathologist works to identify possible disease threats. Cowpea (black-eyed pea) is being studied now.
Unusually early findings of rust in volunteer sunflower in western Nebraska indicate the potential for a major outbreak much earlier than usual. Growers are encouraged to scout within the first few weeks of emergence and treat where necessary.
Dry rot canker, one of several rhizoctonia diseaes of sugarbeet, has been relatively obscure since first being identified almost a century ago. New technologies, however, have helped to differentiate it from the more common Rhizoctonia root and crown rot disease.
With the predicted return to more normal temperatures, it's time to get into wheat fields and start scouting. Stripe rust has already been reported in southeastern Kansas and is expected to move northward. Included is a table of fungicide efficacy ratings for disease management in wheat.