Wheat Stem Rust

by Taylor Broerman, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Puccinia graminis tritici is the pathogen that causes wheat stem rust. This disease favors hot days (77-86°) and mild nights (59-68°), which is a good range for a lot of the crop production areas that are affected. It also favors wet conditions and rainfall.

There is a loss of yield of wheat crops in a few different ways. One way is the fungus absorbs nutrients that should be used for grain development. This fungal infection can also allow for other fungi and bacteria to infect the plant. This stem rust also can cause lodging, which makes harvesting nearly impossible. If conditions are right for this plant, 50-70% of the crop can be lost.

The particular disease that I have chosen is also one that requires and alternate host, which is barberry, to significantly impact the yield of the crop. This means that the eradication of the barberry plant can positively impact the yields of the wheat crop. The ban on barberry plants also helps to prevent the development of  resistant races of the fungal disease.

In addition to eradication of barberry plants as a control method, cultural practices, genetic resistance and chemical control also help to keep the Wheat Stem Rust disease at bay. As stem rust is a major disease of wheat and even barley, these control methods are very important to the production of the largest food crop in the world, wheat.

American Phytopathological Society > Stem Rust of Wheat

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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