|Seed treatments strongly recommended|
|Written by D. Bruce Bosley, Extension agent/cropping systems, Colorado State University Extension—Sterling|
Common bunt (stinking smut) became an issue in some wheat growing areas in eastern Colorado last season. The fungal disease infects seed at germination, and the infection becomes systemic, resulting in wheat seed produced that has poor quality. In some cases, smut-infected wheat was not marketable. Characteristics include a strong fish odor in grain with darkened kernels.
As the wheat planting season approaches, it is recommended that growers treat seed with a fungicide before planting. Seed treatments control seed-transmitted diseases that lower yield and grain quality. These diseases include common bunt (also known as stinking smut) and loose smut.
The fungi that cause these two diseases infect seed or seedlings and grow within the plant until heading, at which time they invade the developing kernels and replace them with fungal spores.
Common bunt in particular can lead to 100 percent loss because grain elevators sometimes will not accept common bunted grain. This year, several growers who had common bunt in their grain were not able to sell it.
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