Our Fusarium Head Blight crop rotation project wrapped for the winter, and we've been looking at the data!
This year, we were a little ahead on the project due to our field rotations. Because this project does not include winter crops, we were able to analyze this year's data throughout the fall.
We had a significant amount of data to process. This year, we had over 270 samples to comb through, each with a leaf rating and root rating.
Off the Head Observations
Due to the drought, we saw FHB numbers down across the Prairies. Our classic sites, like those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, had reduced numbers. While these zones usually have larger quantities of FHB, we saw that they had a marginal amount ≥ so much so that the lack of FHB was noticeable just by looking at the fields.
Following natural disasters, like a drought, some diseases find room to thrive. Other, cyclical diseases don't have that luxury. Thankfully, Fusarium Head Blight falls into the latter group.
This, coupled with the better crop genetics and improved management practices in fields allowed for a better defense. As farmers trust their products and their timings more, they're better equipped to protect their crops from disease.
Crop rotation is one of those tools, so much so that it had a noticeable effect throughout our project.
Throughout this project, it's seemed like anything that followed corn & cereals had an increased chance for leaf disease. This was assumed through visual assessments and our data has not yet reflected this. As well, if we were going to find a disease, it was more than likely found in a post-corn plot.
Because we wanted the limiting effect of this trial to be the rotations, we managed the plots as best we could, given the disasters we saw this year.
When swarms of grasshoppers swept through the Prairies, we were able to spray our fields to protect them. We found that it controlled their populations well after they first showed up. Unfortunately, there was still decent damage from that first wave.
Thankfully, the grasshoppers were not selective in their feasting and devoured supportive crops and weeds on the edges of the fields as well. This dampened the severity of the grasshopper plague this year.
Even though FHB has not been on the top of everyone's mind this year, and the environment decided to hinder our project this year, we are happy to have this data in case numbers start to ramp back up again.