It’s that time of year — harvest has wrapped up and growers are sending seed off for testing (or should be sometime before spring). Thanks to favourable weather in many parts of the West, seed disease pressure is looking like it will be lower in 2018.

It’s a message many are hearing right now from people like me. Yes, so far test results coming back for cereals show lower levels of disease. We did have drier conditions in 2017 that were not as favourable to spore development in soil.

But don’t get fooled. Seed and soil-borne disease is still a big issue that could derail you if you don’t take heed. Here’s some things you can do to ensure you have your disease guard up for 2018.

Pay attention to crop rotations. In some cases we see tight rotations. Depending on what pathogen/strain you’re talking about, you can see disease overlap between crops meaning it can affect more than one crop. It may not cause disease in that crop, but the pathogen can survive and cause disease in next year’s crop.

Think back to 2017: Last year’s seed-borne disease levels in cereals were higher, and some of that seed got put into the ground since many people tested their seed late in the spring. Any time you do that, you increase the inoculum load in the soil. What happened this past spring could reverberate well into 2018.

Bust the myths: Many myths are out there in terms of disease, and you should know about the big ones.

Usually the question that comes up is, “I’m seeding into warm soils into spring so I don’t need a seed treatment, do I?” In warm soils you see diseases like fusarium thrive. Cochliobolus sativus can also show up and start affecting wheat.

People also often think, “I seed in the spring and then everything I do after that is helping me increase yield, so I’m protected from disease,” when actually you’re starting off with 100 per cent yield potential when you seed, but everything that happens after can possibly take away from yield.

Remember, these diseases can be out there regardless of soil temperature.

Disease is present in the soil that may not be present on the seed. Treating your seed is the best defense against both seed and soil borne diseases. Look at seed treatment as a form of insurance, and don’t let down your guard due to the promise of low disease pressure in 2018.

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