New threat on the rise: Wheat blast fungus

New threat on the rise: Wheat blast fungus

A mutated ryegrass fungus, the wheat blast fungus, now poses a deadly threat to wheat farmers. It is said to have originated from South America and has plagued wheat crops since the 80’s. But now, the wheat blast fungus has made its way to Asia and is devastating crops. Experts predict that it may only be a matter of time before the wheat blast fungus threatens South African wheat farmers.

How is it spread?
This is a seed-borne fungus that spreads through air currents. For the fungus to grow, it needs hot and humid conditions, making much of South Africa the ideal climate for wheat blast fungus to thrive.

How it works
The fungus ensures nutrients don’t reach the grain. So, the entire plant can appear healthy, while the top sports a dishevelled, pale appearance.

What works and what doesn’t?
One problem is the infected spores lie inside the wheat seed’s outer layer which means they cannot be rinsed off. Added to that, this wheat blast fungus is said to target all varieties of wheat. Nevertheless, there are certain steps you can take to prevent this fungus from attacking your crops should the need arise.

Because the fungus favours hot and humid conditions, planting wheat crops slightly earlier or later on in the season may help. Alternatively, substituting wheat with different crops for a while may help too.

Additionally, spraying wheat crops with Fungicides is said to have helped somewhat.

While this wheat blast fungus might not be an issue now, we believe that it is always better to prepare for the worst-case scenario. For more information on fungicides for your wheat crop, please contact us on [email protected]