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Excessive rain impacts agriculture

Idaho’s constant rains have given the stripe rust disease perfect conditions to spread through the state’s wheat crops. It may spread into our region, soon.

Juliet Marshall, cereals pathologist with University of Idaho Extension, said the cooler temperatures and other weather factors have helped the disease spread.

“The wind disperses the spores and the rain deposits the spores on the plant surfaces,” said Marshal. “The moisture is critical for the infection process and spore germination.”

When strip rust infects the wheat plant, spores start forming after seven to 10 days. From there, it’s easy for the fungus to circulate through a field of wheat. What makes it dangerous is it dehydrates the wheat rapidly by taking its energy.

Marshall said continual spraying of fungicides helps prevent the disease from infecting crops. She recommends spraying every two weeks, or until the crop starts flowering.

“A lot of our recommendations include spraying the fungicide at herbicide timing as a good protectant. That’s usually before the spores are really around and infecting our plants in this area of the state,” she said.

Marshall said it’s efficient to spray both the fungicide and herbicide at the same time.

So far, stripe rust has surfaced in west and south Idaho, and Teton County.

There is a type of stripe rust that infects barley, UI Extension said it hasn’t surfaced yet but they are keeping an eye out for it.

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