b'FUSARIUM UPDATEFungus Among UsTheres reason to believe Fusarium could become a negligible problem.ITS BEEN TWO years since an important reform was made in the fight against disease in Alberta. Fusarium was officially removed from the provinces Pest and Nuisance Control Regulation on June 2, 2020. The big change it created was an environment which called for management of the disease, as opposed to the former policy of zero tolerance. The majority consensus of the agriculture industry agreed that focusing on zero tolerance was no longer a feasible strategy, especially since the pathogen has airborne spread and has been found in crop production areas of Alberta. The change brought Alberta in harmony with other provinces in how they mitigate it. For farmers, the fight still rages on against a fungal pathogen with multiple known pathotypes, the worst offender being Fusarium graminearum, responsible for Fusarium head blight (FHB).Thankfully, its classified as a priority one disease in wheat, meaning plant breeders are firmly locked into the fight.Prior to the early 1990s, FHB was thought of as an eastern Canadian issue, not one farmers out West would have to worry about. Which was true until it wasnt, when an epidemic of the disease hit the Red River Valley in Manitoba in 1993.This really galvanized opinion that it can happen in Western Canada and could become a real problem, says Rob Graf, recently retired Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) wheat breeder.Graf has the distinction of breeding the only winter wheat variety, Emerson, that carries an resistant (R) rating against FHB. As with many breakthroughs in science, this was at least in part, by accident. Graf didnt specifically breed Emerson for the excellent resistance it expresses at the outset but thats exactly what happened. Over the past couple of decades, research scientists have focused their efforts to create higher yielding wheat varieties of semidwarf stature and increased disease resistance. FHB resistance has gradually been incorporated and improved over the years, in addition to all these and many other factors.Its been a situation of continual improvement, he says. If you look at the adoption of varieties, particularly CWRS but other classes as well, farmers have been very willing to adopt varieties that have better resistance, especially for FusariumCurtis Pozniak, wheat breeder and director of the Crop Development Centre.head blight.PHOTO: CROP DEVELOPMENT CENTRE50seed.ab.ca'