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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999


Scab Disease Damages Small-Grain Crops

Item #d99may54

A May 4, 1999, press release from the American Phytopathological Society says that grain farmers in the Red River Valley of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba have experienced six successive years of crop damage from Fusarium head blight, more commonly known as scab. Additional outbreaks have occurred in Midwestern and Eastern states of the United States. This fungus shrivels the kernels of wheat, rye, and barley, significantly reducing yields. Moisture at the time of flowering is the main stimulus necessary for scab. A succession of wet years beginning in 1993 are linked to the current scab epidemic. From 1991 to 1997, American farmers lost 470 million bushels of wheat, worth $2.6 billion, because of the scab epidemic. Breeding for disease resistance is underway worldwide and soon new cultivars with increased resistance to scab and developed by conventional breeding methods will be available.

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