A farmer’s guide to mitigating and managing fusarium head blight in Alberta.

Recognizing that Fusarium Head Blight has become established in Alberta, and spreads by air-borne spores, it has been acknowledged that mitigating spread by regulating infected seed alone is  no longer effective. A province-wide integrated approach that includes extension and education, communications, surveillance and research will create a long-term mitigation program reaching into the future. Combining resources from many stakeholders, this website will seek to build a strong educational resource while outlining a long-term mitigation and management strategy.

A mitigation and management focus will help farmers stay competitive by:

  • Limiting the spread in a transparent manner
  • Encouraging the innovation in market through research that adheres to Alberta’s environmental conditions
  • Helping to contain disease with manageable levels
  • Helping to reduce the economic impact
  • Limiting mycotoxins produced by Fg that reduce the marketability of grain

Plan your FHB management strategy.

  • Refrain from continuous or short rotations of cereal or corn crops
  • Plant clean, high quality seed
  • Grow varieties with the best available levels of fusarium resistance
  • Treat cereal and corn seed with a fungicide registered for fusarium
  • Increase seeding rates to provide a uniform stand of consistent growth stage in the field
  • Stagger cereal field planting dates
  • Under irrigation avoid creating humid conditions at or near cereal flowering and head emergence
  • Scout cereal fields and run Fusarium head blight (FHB) Risk Assessment tool to determine if a fungicide application is advised
  • Apply fungicide as necessary to cereals during appropriate spray window for FHB suppression
  • Assess FHB infection in crop 10-14 days after anthesis and maintain records of visible infection
    • note that barley infections are much less conspicuous than wheat. Send suspicious heads into lab for testing.
  • Adjust combine fans to blow out lightweight infected wheat kernels OR use chaff collection on fusarium affected fields to catch fusarium damaged kernels
  • Consider harvesting early as DON will continue to spread in grain over 19%
  • Thoroughly clean equipment used to harvest infected fields before moving to clean fields
  • Thoroughly chop and spread straw to encourage decomposition and reduce pathogen survival
  • Bin infected grain separately
  • Avoid or limit storage of feed grain/grain products in uncovered piles or in direct contact with soil as soil moisture can promote growth of F. graminearum
  • Control volunteer cereals and grassy weeds on infested fields
  • Infected grain must not be allowed to come in contact with the soil, which would allow F. graminearum to establish a foothold in roadsides or fields.
  • Send in samples for testing to document and confirm any risk of FHB

For full descriptions regarding these best management practices, review Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s comprehensive overview of FHB including its history in Canada and Alberta, symptoms and effects of the disease, and steps that can be taken to manage fusarium head blight.

Working for you.

This roadmap provides a modernized framework to help mitigate and manage FHB in Alberta. This integrated pest management model highlights actionable tactics that must be taken in conjunction with recent regulatory change to provide for a sustainable model for FHB within existing realities.

  • FHB Risk assessment tool
  • Promote Best Management Practices
  • Work with Ag. Service Boards
  • Develop tools and workshops for education and extension
  • Collaborate with grain buyers
Read More
  • Create collaborative communication strategy
  • Engage locally-focused communications
  • Acknowledge the government’s action in supporting the crop sector
  • Leverage crop insurance as part of the communications strategy
  • Work with partner organizations on prairie-wide awareness of BMPs
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  • Encourage testing of all planting seed
  • Reinforce the value of testing seed for the presence of fusarium
  • Promote FHB risk assessment tool
  • Develop a social media-based reporting system
  • Monitor fusarium province-wide
Read More
  • Identify gaps in research capability or activities
  • Enable science-based research
  • Move away from heat treating seed with new FHB varieties
  • Support local research groups
  • Enable Alberta-based nurseries for variety testing
Read More

What you need to know about regulatory changes.

Learn more about how the provincial government’s shift away from a singular, regulatory control of Fg, in favour of a total management approach with an emphasis on extension and education of best management practices, will help manage and mitigate FHB in Alberta. 

How does FHB affect your bottom line?

FHB has implications on your bottom line. Learn more about how this disease affects the quality of your crop and its end-uses.

Find out more