Alberta Barley

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Scald

The fungus that causes scald overwinters on crop residue, producing spores that are dispersed mainly through rain splash. Unfortunately, conditions that favour crop growth also favour leaf disease, and scald is no exception. Scald can attach to barley at any time, but infection is usually most damaging just before and after heading.  Infected plants will develop water-soaked, greyish-green spots on the leaves, sheaths and glumes. These spots eventually expand into oval legions, grey to tan in the centre and brown along the edges. Lesions can merge, killing entire leaves. If infection does not appear until early to mid-August, losses will be minimal. However, if infection appears on the upper leaves and sheaths in mid-July, expect considerable yield loss as a result. Losses caused by the disease are due to shrivelled seed and reduced seed yield.

Prevention/management tips:

  • Allow at least one year between barley crops
  • Plant resistant varieties when possible
  • Burying crop residue may reduce disease incidence
  • Foliar fungicide will reduce losses if you spray when only small spots are present on the upper leaves

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