Alberta Agriculture & Irrigation’s crop health team is seeing increased cases of Wheat Streak Mosaic (WSM), a viral disease that most commonly affects wheat, stunting the plant and causing it to produce fewer seeds. The earlier the infection, the greater is the effect on the plant. Plants may die, fail to set seed, be stunted or show little effect depending on when they were infected.
Most years the virus and vector do not survive winter, so we do not often see early season symptoms in Alberta wheat fields. The most recent epidemic in Alberta was in 2017. In 2022, more than ten fields were confirmed in southern Alberta. As of the end of June 2023, close to twenty fields are confirmed.
The area currently reporting symptoms is south of the Red Deer River. Producers, agronomists, and crop scouts are encouraged to watch for symptoms of WSM on wheat (winter, spring, durum), barley, corn and all other cereals and grasses.
Initial symptoms include light green streaks parallel to leaf veins that discontinuously elongate to give a mosaic coloration often alternating between chlorosis, pale green, and dark green. In severe cases symptoms coalesce to form chlorotic areas and may even cause complete scorching and desiccation of leaves. On some hosts, a purple discoloration may appear. Symptoms may first appear at the field edge on volunteer wheat, or on winter wheat crops. At later stages, infected plants may become stunted, discolored (lemon yellow) and rosetted. If infection occurs before jointing, it can severely reduce or even prevent grain formation.
WSMV is not a regulated pest, however management options are limited for producers. The only in-season management option for severely infected fields is to harvest the crop early for silage or green feed. No in-season pesticides or other products exist that can manage WSMV. Fungicides do not kill a virus, and insecticides do not kill the mite. Miticide spray applications are ineffective because the mites are microscopic and reclusive – so they “hide” in crevasses, cracks or the underside of leaves to avoid contact with the miticide. If severe infections occur early in the growing season, it may be best to terminate the crop and reseed with a short-season broadleaf crop.
The best way to control WSMV is crop rotation and the prevention of “green bridge” hosts. “Green bridge” is a term referring to continuous green tissue available for the virus which provides a vector to “bridge” the spring crop to the fall-seeded, or winter, crop. The virus and vector cannot survive for more than a week or two without a green host. Preventing a “green bridge” will break the disease cycle and eliminate the problem for the next growing season. This is accomplished by controlling/managing cereal volunteers and (most importantly) by delaying the seeding of winter cereals for at least two weeks after harvest of the spring-seeded crop. This will create a two-week period with no green host tissue available to support WSMV’s survival. The result is that both the virus and mite vector die, and there is no bridge to the next growing season. Winter wheat and other fall-seeded cereals can still be grown, but delayed seeding is essential. Finally, a two-or-more year break between cereals is recommended.
As it is impossible to consistently diagnose WSMV infections based on the mosaic symptoms found on the leaves because these symptoms vary with the growth stage of the host, the virus concentration, and will often overlap with symptoms of other infections or deficiencies. As a result, laboratory confirmation using a molecular test is recommended. If you would like a sample assessed to confirm if WSMV is present the Alberta Plant Health Lab is temporarily accepting samples. Please contact the APHL (AF.PHL@gov.ab.ca) for collection and submission/shipping information.
Visit Alberta's Bacterial Ring Rot site by clicking here: https://www.alberta.ca/bacterial-ring-rot-pest.aspx
Visit Alberta's Clubroot Management Plan by clicking here: https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-clubroot-management-plan.aspx
The County of Newell assists residents with predator concerns. The Director of Agricultural Services or a trained Agricultural Services member will investigate all incidents of predator kill or harassment and implement control as necessary. A $20.00 fee is required if control devices are issued.
It is virtually impossible to eliminate all predators and the damage they cause to livestock, but good management can reduce this damage and still be consistent with all types of livestock production. Since every farm is different, there is no single practice or combination of practices that will be right for every situation. Therefore, when predators strike, it is important to be aware of all options available for their control and to act at once.
Visit Alberta's Dutch Elm Disease site by clicking here: https://www.alberta.ca/dutch-elm-disease.aspx
Visit Alberta's Fusarium graminearum Management Plan by clicking here: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/alberta-fusarium-management-plan.
Richardson Ground Squirrels (gophers) pose a significant threat to the landscape. Be it damages to crops or creating hazardous conditions for livestock and equipment.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has cancelled the registration for 2% liquid strychnine for use on Richardson ground squirrels as of March 4, 2020.
- This means that the manufacturer can sell product up to one year after the cancellation (March 4, 2021)
- The retailer (County of Newell and other ASB’s) can sell the product up to one year after that (March 4, 2022)
- Purchasers can use the product up to one year after that (March 4, 2023)
After March 4, 2023 owning and using strychnine will become illegal and owners/users could face fines.
As such the County of Newell Agricultural Services department has and will be selling 2% LSC to qualifying landowners in some capacity until March 4, 2022. Purchasing Procedure:
- 2% LSC will be sold on a cost recovery basis. The price may fluctuate.
- As per our policy (2016-PAG-032), there will be a maximum of 2 cases sold at any one time to any individual.
- All sales must be handled through the County of Newell Agricultural Services shop by trained Agricultural Services staff.
- Purchasers must receive training from Agricultural Services staff.
- Landowners must be bonafide farmers; meaning they own at least 80 acres of land zoned for agricultural use.
- Information required upon purchase:
- Phone number
- Land description of where product will be applied
The ASB reserves the right to refuse this service to any landowner they feel will abuse the program or use the product outside of the label recommendations. Any landowner discovered using the product against label recommendations will forfeit their right to purchase the product.
Visit Alberta's Grasshopper management site by clicking here: https://www.alberta.ca/grasshopper-management.aspx
The Agricultural Services department is your local call for rat sightings. If you think you have seen a rat, or signs of a rat infestation, please call 403-794-2311, or 310-RATS immediately so an investigation can begin.
Visit Alberta's Rat Control program by clicking here: https://www.alberta.ca/albertas-rat-control-program.aspx
The County of Newell sells Phostoxin (Aluminum Phosphide) to County of Newell landowners for the control of stored grain pests and Richardson Ground Squirrels (gophers).
To purchase Phostoxin from the County, landowners must have obtained a Farmer Pesticide Certificate, and completed either the Grain Bin Fumigation or Rodent Control module. The Farmer Pesticide Certificate is a self-taught program and the exam is administered through the Agricultural Services department. Once the exam has been completed and a passing grade is accomplished, a certificate number will be issued by Alberta Government. The Farmer Pesticide Certificate is valid for 5 years from the time of issue.
Farmer’s must produce their valid Farmer Pesticide Certificate number at the time of purchase as per County of Newell Policy (2016-PAG-032).
The County sells Phostoxin on a cost recovery basis. No less than one flask of product will be sold to any purchaser and no more than two cases will be sold at any one time to any producer.
The ASB reserves the right to refuse this service to any farmer they feel will abuse the program or use the product outside label recommendations. Any farmer discovered using the product against label recommendations will forfeit their right to purchase the product.