Wet spring impacts Idaho grain
Rupert—Snow and rain this year has created perfect conditions for a wave of fungal diseases not seen in years.
University of Idaho Extension grain pathologists say that heavy Southern Idaho snows has led to snow mold in grain fields across Southern Idaho.
Snow molds are diseases caused by fungi and attack small grain crops under snow cover or in cool, wet weather.
Dusty Wilkins grows barley and alfalfa in the Rupert area.
“We lost a couple of fields to flooding, theres some mold out there and were keeping an eye for it, But its been wet since last November.”
Wilkins had to plow a couple of fields under and start all over again.
The USDA says farmers have logged just 6 dry days in the first two weeks of April.
The late snow covers a fungus that needs a dark and humid environment that allows it to grow. Its photosynthetic capabilities are restricted and forces plants to use up stored carbohydrates and protein, that weakens barley and grain leaving them susceptible to infection.
“Its hard to tell the difference between snow mold and other winter damage,” said Wilkins. Plants suffering from winter damage are found on hills or ridge tops where the wind blew the snow away. Snow mold thrives in gullys and protected areas where snow piles up. Snow mold infected plants have a slimy appearance.
As long as the crown of the plant is not infected, they can recover and still have good yields. For fields infected with snow mold Extension agents suggest farmers to rotate out of winter grain for several years to allow the sclerotia to die.
Extension agents say that they’re expecting to see some barley scald and net blotch in the coming days this spring. Barley scald is well established in southern Idaho, but net blotch is a new.