Planting Saved Wheat or Barley Seed

Nathan Kleczewski, Extension Specialist – Plant Pathology;

Some growers may be considering using saved wheat or barley seed for planting their upcoming crops. This year it is a good idea to consider the impacts that Fusarium head blight may have on seedling emergence and health. The Fusarium head blight pathogen infects heads and can cause shrunken, discolored, pink/red grain. These shrunken, shriveled kernels are often referred to as tombstones. If highly infested seed lots are planted, germination may be poor and you may experience issues with Fusarium seedling blight, which can result in a poor stand.

If you do decide to use infested seed, you should pay attention to seed quality. Seed lots should be cleaned and a germination test should be conducted. Additional cleaning may be required to remove enough light weight kernels and achieve satisfactory germination. After thoroughly cleaning your wheat and running germination tests, adjust your seeding rate accordingly. If germination is low, the use of a fungicide seed treatment may help improve germination and establishment. There are several fungicide seed treatments with activity against Fusarium seedling blight (sometimes referred to as seed borne scab). It is important to note that dead kernels will not magically germinate if treated with a fungicide and that seed treatments control against seedling blight resulting from scabby seed, but do not provide control against late season Fusarium head blight.

The 2013 Wheat Variety Trial disease ratings are posted on my blog: