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Fungicide Application in Cereals

Early Bird Doesn’t Always Get the Worm

By Mitchell Japp, PAg, Provincial Specialist Cereal Crops, Regina

June 2020

Wheat crop at herbicide timing.
Wheat crop at herbicide timing.

Seeding is complete and in-crop spraying is well underway. Some growers may consider including a full or partial rate of a fungicide with the in-crop application of herbicides on cereal crops. Recent evidence suggests that including a fungicide with an herbicide application is not beneficial and could be detrimental in both the current and future years.

Adding a fungicide, such as propiconazole, into the sprayer along with the herbicide seems to make sense theoretically, saving another sprayer pass and the direct cost of the fungicide is relatively small. It may also appear like good insurance against later disease issues. However, both recent and historical studies on the prairies have shown that there is no benefit to either a full or half rate of fungicide, even if that fungicide remains active for another seven to 10 days after application.

Dr. Kelly Turkington, with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, led a research project looking at the impact of fungicide and herbicide timing in barley production from 2010-2012. They added a half-rate of propiconazole to herbicide timing at the two to three leaf growth stage and five to six leaf growth stage. Results showed that the disease levels were higher on early treatments compared to flag-leaf timing. Crop yields, along with several key quality parameters for barley, were optimized with the fungicide at flag leaf timing. They also tested a dual application, with an early application and a flag leaf application. There was no improvement compared to a single application at flag leaf. Additionally, they observed that delaying herbicide application to the five to six leaf stage from the two to three leaf stage, barley yield declined due to early weed competition. Weed control was excellent at all sites in the study, but in regular field operations delayed herbicide application could lead to reduced weed control which would lead to increased weed seed production. (CPJS 95:525-537)

Another study by Dr. Sheri Stryhorst updates earlier research conducted in Saskatchewan. The earlier research in Saskatchewan was conducted on irrigated land in the early 1990s. The early Saskatchewan work on irrigated fields did not lead to notable trends in yield, but disease was significantly reduced with fungicide timing at the flag leaf stage compared to earlier applications (at herbicide timing). (CJPS 94: 205-207). Dr. Strydhorst’s, with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, is using modern varieties in an intensive management system, with zero-till operations, similar to what many producers will be doing on their farms. The study focused on tight rotations that may be more susceptible to disease risk, using a canola-wheat rotation, although two crops is not really a rotation. The study was conducted in 2018 and 2019 at four location includes multiple factors and treatments, including variety, fungicide rates, fungicide timing and fungicide mode of action.

Their findings were similar to other research. There was no yield improvement or disease control improvement with a single fungicide application at either herbicide timing or at PGR (plant growth regulator) timing (GS 30-32). However, there were considerable reductions in disease levels and on average a 9 per cent yield increase when fungicide was applied at either flag leaf timing or anthesis timing. In 2019, the yield response was even more notable, with a 12-17 and a seven to 15 per cent yield benefit with a fungicide application at flag leaf or anthesis timing, respectively. They also looked at dual applications, with the first fungicide application at either herbicide or PGR timing compared to dual fungicide applications when the first fungicide application was at flag leaf timing. In most site years, there was no significant yield advantage of dual fungicide applications over single fungicide applications at flag leaf or anthesis timing. (This study is not yet published, but is discussed on The Growing Point podcast).

These results are consistent with recent research that also found that in most cases a single fungicide application at anthesis (Fusarium Head Blight timing) is sufficient for control of leaf diseases (Crop Protection 112: 343-349). In a severe outbreak, managing leaf disease at flag leaf timing may be advantageous, instead of waiting until FHB timing. Recent work out of the northern Great Plains in the U.S. found that a routine fungicide application at flag leaf when the disease risk is low, only generated a positive net return less than one-third of the time (Plant Health Progress 19:288-294). The goal is to protect the upper canopy from leaf disease as yield is derived from the upper canopy. However, in some unusual conditions, there may be a benefit to an early fungicide application. Research out of North Dakota State University has shown that early fungicide applications may result in a small yield benefit, but only in a continuous wheat on wheat “rotation.” They did not observe any benefit to an early season fungicide when a wheat followed another crop. So, just don’t grow wheat on wheat.

Farmers are living with the reality of herbicide resistant weeds. Fungicide resistance is also possible. There are reports of fungicide resistant Fusarium in the north-east United States. Now is the time to be cautious to delay fungicide resistance development. Unnecessary applications and applying the fungicide at a lower rate than recommended (which may be sub-lethal) increases the risk of developing fungicide resistance.

So, while the direct costs of early season fungicide are not high, there is no evidence to suggest there are sufficient benefits, economic or otherwise, to justify the expense. And, there may be additional costs due to delayed weed control and the potential for development of fungicide resistance.

Good fungicide management decisions come down to an understanding of the disease triangle. In order to have the disease, you need a susceptible host, a virulent pathogen and the right environmental conditions. Check the leaf disease resistance ratings in the Varieties of Grain Crops. Scout your fields and watch for signs of the disease. Pay attention to weather patterns. The primary goal is to protect the upper canopy so those leaves can be contributing to yield. Determine if the crop is worth further investment to protect it from leaf disease, based on yield potential, price, potential loss due to disease and the cost of the fungicide application. There are a lot of factors to consider, but early-season fungicides generally shouldn’t be one of those considerations.

Stay ahead of FHB this growing season

You can help to limit the presence of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) in your harvested wheat, barley and oats, and protect the marketability of your grain, by taking a proactive approach to managing fusarium head blight (FHB) this growing season.

Commonly known as vomitoxin, DON can be produced when the fungal disease FHB infects cereal crops. Its presence can limit grain’s end uses and marketing potential, as most importing countries have strict limits on DON levels. Shipments that exceed acceptable levels of DON could be rejected, at tremendous cost to the industry and may impact Canada’s reputation as a producer of high-quality cereal grains.

FHB can be identified by premature bleaching and salmon-coloured fungal growth on the heads of crops it has infected, with symptoms showing up approximately three weeks after infection. To help keep marketing options open for your harvested grain and protect your investment, Keep it Clean recommends the following practices to manage FHB:

• Grow the most FHB-resistant varieties available in areas at risk for FHB.
• Plant clean seed and consider a seed treatment in high-risk areas.
• Scout for stage, not symptoms, and apply fungicide when there is an elevated risk of FHB.
• If FHB is identified, send samples of harvested grain for testing to detect the presence of mycotoxins, such as DON.
• Rotate away from cereals on FHB-infected fields for 1-2 years.
• Use a Combination of Best Management Practices to Control Fusarium.

Be sure to make use of the materials available through provincial commodity groups and agricultural departments, including risk maps, to inform your decisions and help limit the spread and severity of outbreaks. For more information about how staying ahead of FHB can help you protect your investment and the marketability of your cereal crop, visit

This update has been provided by Keep it Clean. Additional resources and tips for growing a market-ready cereal crop are available at

Recommendations regarding chlormequat (e.g. Manipulator)

*Originally published by the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre

  • Farmers should consult their grain buyer, as well as thoroughly review their contract, with regard to the use of Chlormequat chloride on malting barley. Many malting barley buyers in Canada will not accept malting barley treated with Chlormequat chloride.
  • To avoid potential market access issues, malting barley treated with Chlormequat chloride should not be delivered into the commercial grain system without the knowledge of the grain buyer. 
  • Producers are encouraged to investigate the cost/benefit of using Chlormequat chloride in their area (see study by L.A. Perrott, S.M.Strydhorst et al, link below).
  • Given risks associated with the use of Chlormequat chloride (e.g. Manipulator) on malting barley in relation to customer acceptance, market access and potential impact on malting barley quality, the CMBTC recommends producers not use Chlormequat chloride on malting barley until such time as these risks have been addressed.

Background information

  • In 2019 the plant growth regulator Manipulator (Chlormequat chloride) was registered for use on barley in Canada.  
  • In March of 2020, it was reviewed under the Canada Grain Council’s Domestic MRL Policy (link below) as administered by Cereals Canada, which resulted in the classification of Chlormequat chloride (e.g. Manipulator) as “Green/no recommendations” status for barley, with an exception for use on malting barley for which it is classified “Amber/Be informed” status, which signals: Be informed. Treated grain may not be accepted by some grain buyers. Consult with your grain buyer before using this product.
  • Chlormequat chloride/Manipulator is listed under “Products of Concern” in the 2020 Keep it Clean! campaign*with the following statement highlighted in the information sheet: “Before using chlormequat on malt barley, growers are advised to check with their grain buyer to confirm contract obligations and acceptance.” 
  • In a study entitled Effect of Cultivar and Agronomic Management on Feed Barley Production in Alberta Environments by L.A. Perrott et al, the investigators found that advanced management techniques had negligible effects on lodging and grain quality in 10 feed barley cultivars evaluated. Advanced management included supplemental post-emergence N, the plant growth regulator (PGR) chlormequat chloride (CCC), and two foliar fungicide applications.
  • A study published in 2020 by McMillan et al (reference below) found that chlormequat-treated barley produced malt with somewhat reduced levels of enzymes and poorer endosperm modification, although the effects were relatively small.  

*Keep it Clean! is a multi-platform communications campaign aimed at farmers and designed to emphasize the importance of using only registered crop input products and always according to label instructions; this is to ensure Canadian grain is market ready and doesn’t create any market access issue.

Referenced links:
  • Canada Grains Council Domestic MRL Policy link:
  • Effect of Cultivar and Agronomic Management on Feed Barley Production in Alberta Environments – Published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science June 21, 2018. L.A. Perrott, S.M. Strydhorst, L.M. Hall, R.C. Yang, D. Pauly, K.S. Gill, and R. Bowness.
  • Effects of plant growth regulator application on the malting quality of barley (2020). McMillan, T., Tidemann, B., O’Donovan, J., and Izydorczyk, M.S. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 100:2082-2089

Western wheat and barley commissions concerned about 2020 research activities

Saskatoon, SK; Calgary, AB; Carman, MB (April 22, 2020) – The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) and the Canadian Barley Research Coalition (CBRC) are asking Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to continue important wheat and barley research activities at AAFC’s western Canadian research stations in 2020.

Urgent action is required to save the 2020 AAFC field, lab, and greenhouse activities for wheat and barley research projects. This farmer-funded research is critical to the competitiveness of Canada’s agriculture industry and cancelling project activities will have repercussions. Many of the current projects funded by the CWRC, CBRC, and individual crop commissions are multi-year, multi-site, and multi-cooperator endeavors. The impact of disruptions to this work needs to be considered on a project-to-project and program-to-program basis to minimize the loss of both future productivity and the potential contributions of previous projects.

Given the complexity of the situation, it is necessary to evaluate the level of risk and develop safety protocols on a regional basis. Prairie universities have established plans that will allow them to safely continue their research activities in 2020. Private research institutions have also put plans in place to conduct field research this year with appropriate measures to ensure employee safety.

“We are facing an unprecedented situation with respect to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of researchers and other staff is our top priority,” said CWRC Chair Jason Lenz. “The universities and private plant breeders have found safe options to conduct their research. We’re confident AAFC can also create a plan to continue critical research and provide clarity to western Canadian farmers.”

“As funders and partners in research, with a goal to support the agriculture industry, we will assist researchers wherever we can,” says CBRC Interim-Chair Jason Skotheim. “We are requesting that AAFC consult our member organizations to explore opportunities, communicate contingency plans and discuss any potential required adjustments in contract terms and conditions as soon as possible.”

Going forward, both the CWRC and CBRC will remain committed to minimizing the impact of the pandemic on the current and future success of the industry while maintaining appropriate measures to ensure health and safety.

The CWRC is a collaboration of the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, the Alberta Wheat Commission, and Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association. The CBRC is a collaboration of the Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission, the Alberta Barley Commission and Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association.

For more information, please contact:

Delaney Seiferling
Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission
P: 306-250-1099

Victoria Decker
Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

Kate Menold
Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association

Dallas Carpenter
Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission


Western Applied Research Corporation annual Crop Opportunity Meeting

SaskBarley is a sponsor of the Western Applied Research Corporation’s Crop Opportunity Meeting on March 04, 2020 at the Dekker Centre in North Battleford.  This event is open to everyone and features presentations from industry experts on current issues in Saskatchewan agriculture.

See full agenda

Register today at
Pre-register: $25 (before February 28) Standard registration: $35
Lunch included
Registration: 8:30AM
Event: 9:00-4:00PM
Contact: 306-247-2001 or

SaskBarley Chair, Vice-Chair positions to remain unchanged

January 20, 2020 – Saskatoon, SK The Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission (SaskBarley) announced today that its Chair and Vice-Chair will remain unchanged for another year.

Jason Skotheim will remain on as the Chair of the Board, and Brent Johnson will remain as the Vice-Chair.

Skotheim farms with his brothers on a 4,500-acre farm north of Prince Albert growing barley, wheat and canola. He is also a founding owner of Horizon Manufacturing Inc., Saskatchewan’s only premium dry pet food manufacturer.

Johnson and his wife Jenna reside are the 4th generation to reside on the family farm started over 100 years ago near Strasbourg. The farm consists of 5,000 acres of grain land, and a 180 head commercial cow/calf operation

Last week, SaskBarley also officially welcomed two new Directors, Glenn Wright (Vanscoy) and Matt Enns (Rosthern) to the Board, following the closure of its 2019 elections in December. Incumbent Keith Rueve (Muenster) was re-elected for another term as Director and Allen Kuhlmann (Vanguard) will continue his current term as Director.

For more information:

Delaney Seiferling
Communications Manager

A reminder to farmers: check your bins!

The difference between feed and malt can be $1.50/bushel or more!
With the challenging 2019 harvest behind us (at least for most) an important consideration for farmers with malting barley this winter will be properly storing and monitoring the grain to ensure quality does not deteriorate. Even barley that did not appear chitted at harvest is showing signs of pre-harvest sprouting when tested, and in some cases this is resulting in a loss in germination. If your barley has excess moisture levels (i.e. above 13.5%) and/or has not had a chance to cool down since harvest, it is at risk of heating, loss of germination and other issues such as mold and mildew. 
Generally speaking, the industry standard for germination in malting barley is minimum 95%, and good storage conditions can help maintain malting barley vigour. Heating, mold and mildew can also lead to barley being rejected for selection as malt.  
What to do?

  • Check your bin tops for moisture migration. A small bit of tough barley can ultimately spoil the whole bin if not addressed.
  • If your moisture level is above 13.5%, you should try to get the moisture down.
  • Run your aeration fans on cold days to freeze your bins. Cool and dry grain has greatly improved shelf life.
  • If air/heat is not possible in the bin, you may need to remove all or part of the grain from your bin to dry it, or at least cool it down before putting it back in the bin. 

You can submit a sample to your local malting barley buyer to check the germination level of your barley. Questions can also be directed to:
Jill McDonald, SaskBarley

Producers: We need your input!

On behalf of the barley industry, the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI) is working closely with the Barley Council of Canada (BCC) to facilitate the development of a national research strategy for barley.

A key objective of the National Barley Research Strategy is to identify and quantify the research of highest importance to farmers in order to provide a high return on their funding investments.

We encourage Saskatchewan barley growers to participate by completing the short survey.

SaskBarley announces results of 2019 Board elections

The Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission (SaskBarley) announced today the results of the fall 2019 election.
There were four candidates running for three positions on the Board. The successful candidates are incumbent Keith Rueve (Muenster) and newcomers Glenn Wright (Vanscoy) and Matt Enns (Rosthern).
There were 2305 separate votes cast for eligible candidates, from 946 ballots received (280 electronic and 666 verified paper ballots).
The Directors’ terms will start following the SaskBarley annual general meeting (AGM), which will be held Monday, January 13, 2020 at 2:45PM at TCU Place in Saskatoon.
They will be joining three existing Directors on the Board: Chair Jason Skotheim, Vice-Chair Brent Johnson and Allen Kuhlmann.
Registered producers are encouraged to attend the SaskBarley AGM Monday, January 13, 2020 at TCU Place in Saskatoon. Registration begins at 11:00AM, followed by lunch at 11:30AM, the SaskWheat AGM at noon and a keynote speaker at 1:45PM. See a full agenda at
For more information, please contact:
Delaney Seiferling
Communications Manager

SaskBarley funded research concludes that dry rolled barley grain a good option for cattle feed

Recent research, partially funded by SaskBarley, concluded that feeding dry rolled barley grain to cattle resulted in improved growth performance and digestibility.

The research, lead by Dr. Greg Penner at the University of Saskatchewan, aimed to evaluate the effects of the source of silage, cereal grain, and their interaction on growth, digestibility, and carcass characteristics of finishing beef cattle.

Research background

Western Canadian feedlots have predominantly relied on the use of barley silage and barley grain as feed ingredients for finishing diets. However, the recent development of short-season corn hybrids offer a yield advantage for producers relative to barley silage (Lardner et al., 2017; Baron et al., 2014). Although corn silage typically has greater starch and lesser protein content than barley silage, the amount of dietary energy contributed by silage is relatively small in finishing diets. At such low levels of inclusion (< 10% DM basis), forage in finishing diets is more likely to provide value as a source of effective fibre rather than as a source of energy.

When processed similarly, starch and protein from barley is degraded more rapidly and to a greater extent in the rumen than corn grain (Herrera-Saldana et al., 1990). Due to the rapid fermentation of dry-rolled barley grain, the risk of ruminal acidosis is perceived to be greater than with dry-rolled corn, a response that can have a negative impact on ADG and G:F (Castillo-Lopez et al., 2014). Several studies have demonstrated that combining grain sources with differing rates of degradable carbohydrate fractions may improve efficiency and growth performance of finishing cattle (Kreikemeier et al., 1987; Stock et al., 1987b). That being said, there are currently no studies that compare barley and corn and limited studies that have evaluated short-season corn silage. Additionally, while previous studies have evaluated the use of either barley- or corn-based diets for finishing cattle (Beauchemin et al., 1997), they have not examined the interactions between cereal silage and cereal grain sources.
We hypothesized that due to the differing concentrations of starch and the expected differences for starch and protein degradability in corn and barley grain, diets containing blended grains will result in improved digestibility, growth performance, and feed efficiency compared to single grain diets, with little effect of silage source.

Read the entire report