Thomas County Ag Agent, Andrew Sawyer, and I were looking at some wheat around Ochlocknee yesterday and noticed some bleached and discolored heads infected with Fusarium Head Blight/Scab. Decatur County Agent, Justin Ballew found some last week around Bainbridge and Seminole Ag Agent, Rome Etheredge, posted some photos and information on Wheat Head Scab on his blog. The problem has to do with weather conditions during time of flowering and it doesn’t spread. Below is some information from UGA Extension Grain Pathologist, Dr. Alfredo Martinez-Espinosa:
“Historically, scab (Fusarium spp /teleomorphs Gibberella spp and Microdochium nivale) infections have been extremely low in Georgia. The pathogen requires warm (78-86 F consistently), humid/wet weather coinciding with wheat at flowering stages for infection to occur. Fusarium conidia and/or ascospores infection are most common at wheat anthesis.
Recently, while the weather has been wet across the state, the temperatures have remained low and therefore diminishing greatly the risk for infection. It is still worth to scout for the presence of scab in areas where flowering have coincided with wet/moist weather. Scab is best recognized on emerged immature heads where one or more or the entire head appears prematurely bleached. Usually a pinkish/orange mycelium is present, which will develop dark fruiting bodies (perithecia). Diseased, bleached spikelets are sterile or contain shriveled/discolored seed (usually with a tint of pink or orange).
An additional problem is that the fungus produces a compound in the grain that may be toxic to livestock and man. For control, avoid rotation with other cereal crops, specifically corn or sorghum.”
If you believe this disease is in your field let me know and I’ll come out and identify it.