Improving the deposition and coverage of fungicides on ears to control Fusarium ear blight and reduce mycotoxin contamination of grain


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 October 2002 - 31 March 2005
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
AHDB sector cost:
£166,168 from the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (Project No. 2743).
Project leader:
C S Parkin1 , P C H Miller1 , E S Powell2 , J H Orson2 , J Gill2 N Magan3 , and D Aldred3 1 Silsoe Research Institute, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire, MK45 5HS 2 The Arable Group, Wymondham, Norfolk, NR18 9DB, UK 3 Cranfield University, Silsoe, Bedford, MK45 4DT, UK



About this project


Fusarium ear blight (FEB) infections in wheat can significantly reduce grain yield and produce mycotoxins that are potentially harmful when consumed. Limits on the levels of mycotoxins found in grain are being introduced. Fungicidal sprays need to not only control FEB but also reduce mycotoxin levels.

A three-year study aimed at developing techniques to both control FEB and reduce toxin levels was carried out. Spray deposition from a range of application techniques was evaluated in the laboratory using a wind tunnel and. Field experiments were carried out using established and emerging fungicides and commercial field plots were inoculated with mycotoxin producing Fusarium species. Samples of ears were assessed for FEB and analysed by HPLC techniques for trichothecene mycotoxins.

Deposition onto sensitive sites such as the spikelets was increased by angling nozzles and selecting an appropriate spray quality. With some fungicides this could improve disease control. Recently-introduced fungicides performed better than established fungicides.  Application technique had no clear effect on mycotoxin production.

Despite inoculation with mycotoxin-producing Fusarium sp., levels of disease established in the experimental plots varied from year to year. Factors such as the naturally occurring Fusarium -Microdochium complex and its variable response to fungicides appeared to mask any differences due to changes in fungicide deposit. All grain samples analysed had mycotoxin levels below the forthcoming EU standard of 1250 µg kg-1 for unprocessed wheat.

More reliable disease control will result from angling nozzles backwards. Medium spray quality or air-included sprays may provide better control than fine sprays.