Last year, many barley and wheat growers were severely "bitten" by the Fusarium head blight fungi – what's more commonly known as scab. Now, by registering for a cell phone or e-mail alert, you can stay ahead of the development if it occurs this summer.
A new "scab alert" system has been instituted by the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative. It's tied in with the Fusarium Head Blight Risk Assessment Tool, hosted by Pennsylvania State University, Kansas State University, Ohio State University and the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative.
Sign up for the alerts at: scabusa.org/fhb_alert.php. Alerts will be sent out to your cell phone or e-mail, depending on your preference. Frequency and timing of alerts will depend upon a given area's risk for severe scab. It varies widely, depending on environmental conditions.
The Web-based scab risk assessment tool can be found at www.wheatscab.psu.edu/riskTool_2010.html. It offers daily updated information on scab risks in various U.S. small grain production regions.
The scab alert aims to offer better advanced notice of potential outbreaks and the risk of scab in your area, thus allowing for timely treatment of fields with fungicides. "Many farmers don't have easy or convenient access to the Internet. But most carry a cell phone," says Dave Van Sanford, USWBSI co-chair.
The system will prompt you to take an appropriate action, such as going to the Web site, scabusa.org/fhb_alert.php, checking with your county agent, chemical dealer or consultant, or simply scouting your crop to check scab development.
The FHB Assessment Tool is updated daily, includes commentaries from various state university plant disease specialists regarding environmental conditions and the presence of scab (or lack thereof) in their state. Their commentaries are the basis for the scab alerts.