Control Stinking Smut Disease of Wheat

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Stinking smut is more injurious to wheat than any other type of smut. Stinking smut is carried over from one crop to the next as black spores on the seeds or as smut balls mixed with the seed. In mild climates, the spores also overwinter in the soil. When smut infected seed is sown, the smut spores germinate and the organisms penetrate into infect the young seedlings. As the in the organisms reach flower, they destroy it and produce what are commonly referred to as smut balls in place of the kernels. Diseased heads are darker green in color, are plumper in appearance than the healthy heads, and have a distinctive “fishy” odor. The smut balls are grayish brown or almost black in color and are about the size and shape of the wheat kernels. At threshing, the smut balls are broken and the spores released and distributed to healthy kernels. Infected grain can’t be used for milling unless it is first washed to remove the spores and the ‘fishy’ odor. Consequently, such wheat commands a lower price on the market.

How to control stinking smut disease of wheat?
 In areas of mild winters, where the spores are capable of surviving over winter in the soil, damage caused by stinking smut can often be reduced by rotation of crops. Where the spores can survive, resistant varieties should be used. Treatment with seed disinfectants is the principal method of controlling stinking smut disease. Seed treatment may not always increase yields in the case of resistant varieties, but it serves as an effective, inexpensive insurance. Badly smutted wheat should not be used for seed. Moderately smutted seed can be used safely if it is first cleaned in a fanning mill and then treated with a suitable seed disinfectant. Seed disinfectants such as Panogen and Ceresan M can be used for effective control the stinking smut disease of wheat.