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WSU stripe rust website alerts growers to threats, management strategies

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Stripe Rust Alert website has been launched to inform wheat growers of stripe rust levels, and to present tools to help manage the fungus. Dr. Xianming Chen, research plant pathologist of USDA-ARS and adjunct professor at Washington State University, compiles the information from regional reports and his own field surveys. The site is available at http://striperustalert.wsu.edu/.

Stripe rust can cover the length of the wheat leaf, causing significant crop losses. Photo by Stephen Guy. Click image to download higher-resolution version.

Stripe rust, a foliar disease that can spread rapidly through the air, caused significant losses to wheat crops in 2011, due to the cool, wet conditions favored by the disease. Chen reports that stripe rust is much less prevalent in the Pacific Northwest this year, but another threat faces growers: unnecessary spending on fungicide applications, as some farmers may overspray because of their recollection of last year’s conditions. Fungicide applications can cost between $5 and $20 per acre, so farmers can realize significant savings if they withhold unnecessary treatments.

In addition to assessments of stipe rust prevalence and management comments, the site features charts with wheat varieties and their resistance to stripe rust, allowing growers to factor resistance into their management plans. While the site focuses on the Pacific Northwest, it also reviews the stripe rust outlook in other states. In the future, Chen will add more information about stripe rust and its management, which will appeal to growers and scientists alike.

Growers can also receive stripe rust alerts via email by contacting Chen at xianming@wsu.edu.