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Take-All Wheat Disease

May 30, 2019

Take-all is a plant disease affecting the roots of grass and cereal plants in temperate climates caused by the fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici.  All varieties of wheat and barley are susceptible.

The pathogen survives in the soil on infected cereal and grass residues. The fungus infects the root tissue of young plants and can spread from plant to plant  through the soil which is why the disease is often seen in patches. The fungus blocks the conductive tissue of the plants and reduces water uptake. Early symptoms of the disease include yellowing and stunting, tillering is reduced and plants mature prematurely and often exhibit bleached seed heads. The affected roots are blackened and the plants are easy to pull from the soil.

Currently, chemical treatments have had little to no succes on this disease, although a modern seed treatment shows promise. Crop nutrition imbalances worsen the disease, as well as excessive liming. Modern varieties are stiff and short-strawed which allows relatively high spring nitrogen applications without serious lodging. This can limit damage from the disease.

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