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Agriculture

Fungal Disease Could Affect Kansas Winter Wheat Planting

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Agriculture experts are warning farmers about a disease that could affect winter wheat planting in Kansas.

As Kansas winter wheat farmers begin to plant seeds this fall, a fungal disease called flag smut could be waiting to infect their future crops.

It was first detected in Rooks County in north-central Kansas back in May. The disease doesn’t affect plant quality, but can decrease yields.

Romulo Lollato, an agronomist for Kansas State University, says the disease remains in the soil after harvest and can infect seeds as they germinate. He encourages farmers to use fungicides.

“If that seed is well coated with fungicide seed treatment, [flag smut] shouldn’t be a problem,” Lollato says.

The discovery of flag smut back in spring is the first verified case in Kansas in decades. It didn’t have much of an effect on winter wheat this year, however, as yields were relatively strong.

Winter wheat farmers in Kansas will begin to plant seeds later this month and through October.

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Follow Sean Sandefur on Twitter @SeanSandefur.

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