NDSU Extension Takes on Fusarium Head Blight

Fusarium head blight (FHB), or scab, is a fungal disease that can occur on all small-grain crops grown in North Dakota. The disease commonly is seen on spring wheat, winter wheat, durum and barley, causing significant reductions in yield and quality.

“FHB is not a new disease to North Dakota, yet it is the most important disease for approximately 8 million acres of small grains in the state,” says Andrew Friskop, NDSU Extension plant pathologist. “The disease can cause significant reductions in yield and quality, and FHB-infested grain may contain fungus-produced toxic substances called mycotoxins.”

The most common mycotoxin associated with Fusarium-infected grain in the northern Great Plains is deoxynivalenol (vomitoxin) or DON (VOM). This mycotoxin may cause vomiting and feed refusal in nonruminant animals, such as pigs. The presence of this toxin also may result in substantial price discounts at the market and even refusal to purchase if DON toxin levels are high.

Since 2015, growers have lost tens of thousands of dollars in yield and quality, prompting a strong Extension response.

Friskop and a team of Extension specialists and local agents are using a combination of North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station research and NDSU Extension information and resources to help North Dakota small-grains producers take on this disease.

With more than $120,000 in grant funds from the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, Friskop and his team have conducted multiple fungicide experiments and scab-resistant variety trials in North Dakota. In 2020, 13 trials were conducted at four locations: the Carrington Research Extension Center, Fargo Main Station, Langdon Research Extension Center and Nesson Valley Irrigation Project site.

The data received from these trials is combined with Extension recommendations and then presented to producers in scab-stricken areas at Extension winter meetings, crop in-service meetings, field days, trade shows and other agricultural events. In addition, Friskop has co-authored two recent Extension publications focused on FHB and DON, and shares timely information through social media, news releases and the NDSU Crop & Pest Report.

Data is showing that Friskop’s work is having an impact.

“When I gave my first presentations on this topic in 2015, 15% percent of the audience indicated that they had gained important insight that they would apply to their own operation,” Friskop says. “In 2019, 50% indicated that they had learned something new, and 25% of the audience indicated that they had gained knowledge that they would apply to their own operation.”


Fusarium Head Blight (Scab) of Small Grains

Plant Disease Management: Deoxynivalenol (DON) in Small Grains

Andrew Friskop, 701-231-7627, andrew.j.friskop@ndsu.edu

Top of page