Farmers planting more fusarium resistant wheat varieties

An extension educator says farmers have shifted to more fusarium head scab resistant wheat varieties in the past five years.

Martin Nagelkirk with Michigan State University Extension tells Brownfield it’s important for farmers to plant wheat varieties with the greatest resistance to fusarium head scab to produce the highest quality wheat possible.  “Wheat is different because it’s not a hybrid, it’s not genetically modified, so we’re using really old-fashioned breeding techniques, and what that really means is some of our varieties can stick around for a long time.”

He says a recent survey of Michigan wheat growers found farmers cut soft red varieties that were fully “susceptible” to scab by about 60 percent in the past five years and plantings of moderately resistant varieties, or varieties with the greatest resistance on the market, increased.  “When we looked at the 2011 results versus last year’s results, we could see that especially in the soft red varieties, we were making phenomenal progress—22 percent had moderately resistant.”

The study also found about three-quarters of Michigan’s soft wheat acreage was planted to “susceptible” or “very susceptible” varieties and was unchanged over the past five years. Nagelkirk says that’s mostly related to a lack of new resistant soft white varieties available for farmers.

About two-thirds of Michigan’s wheat acreage is soft red wheat and the rest is soft white wheat.

AUDIO: Interview with Martin Nagelkirk

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