Impacts of changing climate and agronomic factors on fusarium ear blight of wheat in the UK
West, Jon S.
Edwards, Simon G.
Fitt, Bruce D.L.
Climate change will have direct impacts on fusarium ear blight (FEB) in wheat crops, since weather factors greatly affect epidemics, the relative proportions of species of ear blight pathogens responsible and the production of deoxynivalenol (DON) toxin by two Fusarium species, F. graminearum and F. culmorum. Many established weather-based prediction models do not accurately predict FEB severity in the UK. One weather-based model developed with UK data suggests a slight increase in FEB severity as a direct effect of climate change. However, severity of the disease is likely to increase further due to indirect effects of climate change, such as increased cropping of grain maize, since maize debris is a potent source of inoculum of F. graminearum. To guide strategies for adaptation to climate change, further research on forecasting, management options to reduce mycotoxin production, and breeding for resistant varieties is a high priority for the UK. Adaptation strategies must also consider factors such as tillage regime, wheat cultivar (flowering time and disease resistance) and fungicide use, which also influence the severity of FEB and related toxin production.