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Smut in Barley

Many growers have commented on a noticeable level of smut in barley during spring 2015. Smut is a seed borne disease which is best managed through sowing clean, fungicide treated seed.

In severe cases, a smut infected crop suffers yield loss and grain can be downgraded.

When Covered Smut infected plants are harvested, spores are released which contaminate healthy grain. After sowing, the spores germinate and infect emerging seedlings through the first leaf.

Loose Smut spores are released from the emerging head and are carried on the wind to infect other healthy barley florets. After infection, the fungus grows into the developing seed which in turn produces infected plants.

Minimising the impact of smuts involves harvesting clean seed and treating seed with the correct rate of a fungicide registered to control smuts. Where infection levels are high, clean seed must be used.

There are a range of seed treatments registered for control of Loose Smut and Covered Smut. Trial data from Western Australia indicates that the more recently released seed treatments provide a superior level of control.