What is foot disease (Gaeumannomyces graminis)?

Foot disease is the rotting of the roots of wheat , a disease produced by a fungus called Gaeumannomyces graminis that lives as a saprophyte in organic waste. This disease is one of the most devastating for wheat cultivation, since it affects the vital parts of the plant and many control methods are usually not effective.

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How to identify the evil of the foot?

This disease has black radical necrosis, which can cover the neck of the plant and its entire radical system. On the other hand, other symptoms are the yellowing of the leaves and the appearance of white spikes, which causes the plants to die prematurely after the spike.

This means that wheat does not produce grains, although if it does, their size will be much smaller compared to normal. If there is a lot of humidity, the white ears become black due to the presence of saprophytic fungi. The black roots of the plants or dark brown coloration are indicators that they have been infected by the evil of the foot .

Foot Evil Prevention

Unfortunately there are no resistant varieties or treatments that can fight this parasite, so prevention is necessary.

The Gaeumannomyces graminis fungus is a soil colonizer and usually enters the site through the use of contaminated machinery, minor tools and footwear, or through the legs of animals. Most likely, it will take 8-10 years before this fungus is detected on the site and once it has entered the ground, it will remain in it forever.

In the presence of foot disease on a site, the most effective method to reduce the damage it causes is crop rotation . However, crop rotation also involves a number of aspects to consider. On farms with a history of this fungus, wheat should not be sown after triticale or barley.

Although these crops are much more tolerant to the attack of foot disease, the causative agent of this terrible disease can develop and multiply in these species, staying more than one season and increasing its population. On the other hand, the high level of soil moisture, generated by poor drainage, can favor infection of the foot disease . For this to be resolved, you will have to improve soil drainage.

Fungicides to control foot disease

In the market there is a large amount of seed disinfectant fungicides that help slow the development of foot disease. However, the pathogen attacking the plant in any state of development, makes fungicides of low efficacy, since the period in which the product remains active is limited and the plants will be unprotected again at two or three months

However, under the conditions of late or spring plantings, the use of disinfectant fungicides can reduce the level of attack. It should be made clear that no product will control the fungus strictly.

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Some relative wild wheat species have a high tolerance or resistance to this pathogen. The evil foot fungus prefers wheat , triticale and various related grasses.

The disease is largely related to growing temperate zones, but it could also be found in a wide range of environments, including even tropical areas.

by Abdullah Sam
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