Wheat field

Diseases are a major cause of yield loss in winter wheat. Environmental conditions in Nebraska vary considerably because elevation increases and rainfall decreases from east to west. In addition, approximately 5% of winter wheat production in the state occurs under irrigation. This variation in environmental conditions has a major influence on the prevalence and incidence of specific wheat diseases across the state.

The most damaging disease of winter wheat in Nebraska is wheat streak mosaic, caused by wheat streak mosaic virus. Although this disease has occurred predominantly in the western part of the state, it has caused damage in the south central and eastern parts as well. Other diseases commonly observed on winter wheat in Nebraska are leaf rust, various leaf spots including tan spot and Septoria leaf and glume blotch, and loose smut. Stripe rust and common bunt occur sporadically. Diseases not commonly seen, but which occurred in 2007 due to highly favorable environmental conditions, include barley yellow dwarf, caused by barley yellow dwarf virus, and Fusarium head blight or scab.

Stripe and Leaf Rust Maps

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distribution of stripe rust on wheat in Nebraska as of June 18, 2020
distribution of leaf rust on wheat in Nebraska as of June 18, 2020

We have launched a new effort to track the movement of wheat stripe and leaf rust by county across Nebraska. Contribute to the rust tracking map by completing the quick survey as the growing season progresses. We do ask you to complete the survey even if you have not observed stripe or leaf rust yet. You will be answering several questions and uploading a high quality photo(s) as a part of this survey to track the distribution of stripe and leaf rust in Nebraska by county. Once you have completed the survey, you can see and download a PDF copy of what you submitted in your web browser and you will receive a confirmation email too. Thank you for your help in tracking the movement of stripe and leaf rust in Nebraska! The weekly distribution map resulting from this survey will be posted at here on the CropWatch Disease Management of Wheat page.

complete the survey

Contact Nathan Mueller, Cropping Systems Extension Educator, with questions in regards to this new effort at nathan.mueller@unl.edu.

Preliminary Disease Identification

If you are unsure of what disease your wheat may have, you may want to review Wheat Disease Profles I & II, which show pictures and describe common symptoms of various wheat diseases. The multi-state Extension publication Wheat Disease Identification is another excellent resource for identifying disease problems in wheat. Identifying Rust Diseases of Wheat and Barley is a multi-state Extension publication that can help you differentiate between three rust diseases of wheat.