Stripe Rust In Wheat

Stripe rust has been moving north in the prairies and is becoming more of a problem when we have certain weather conditions.  It is important that producers recognize stripe rust.  It is a very aggressive disease that can do damage quickly.  The disease cycle for stripe rust is unique, so it is important to know how the disease spreads so that risk can be recognized.  Finally, it is important to know how to control strip rust.  As of the end of July, I have seen no stripe rust in the Meadow Lake area.

Stripe rust is an easy disease to identify in a wheat field.  If you have yellowish-orange stripes on your wheat leaf which are powdery, you have stripe rust.  Other diseases form in strips but no other disease in the area will have this color of powdery stripes.

Historically, stripe rust has overwintered in Mexico or the pacific north-west in the United States.  The disease had to be blown in from these areas early in the season to present a disease risk.  The disease is now overwintering in the prairies.  This is likely due to our milder winters and adaptation of the rust.  If the disease is closer to our area, the potential for disease goes up because local wind currents can blow the disease into your field.  Also, stripe rust seems to be more aggressive in the prairies because it has adapted to the warmer temperatures of the region.  These are both reasons why the disease is becoming more of a threat just south of us.

Controlling the disease can be done with fungicides.  This cost the growers money and cultural controls should be looked at.  Some wheat varieties have varying levels of resistance to this disease.  AC Intrepid is one of these varieties.  If you are interested to find out if your variety has resistance to this disease, check the provincial variety guides.  Using resistant wheat varieties is the simplest and most economical way to control stripe rust.

Stripe rust is an aggressive disease that can devastate a wheat crop if it moves into the field early.  Fortunately, we have not seen evidence of the disease in the Meadow Lake area yet.  Keep an eye on your fields and ensure that the disease is not present.  If you see something that looks suspicious, get the disease identified.


Dave Cubbon, P Ag