The inoculum level of Gibberella zeae on wheat spikes was measured during 1995 and 1996 in nine locations of Canada and the United States prone to Fusarium head blight of wheat. Spikes were exposed after exsertion and until kernel milk or soft dough stage in fields with wheat or corn residue as a source of inoculum; other spikes were exposed in a location remote from any obvious inoculum source; and in 1995 only, control plants remained in a greenhouse. After 24 h, spikes were excised and vigorously shaken in water to remove inoculum. Propagules were enumerated on selective medium and identified as G. zeae from subcultures. Significantly more inoculum was detected from fields in epidemic areas than from remote sites in an epidemic and from fields in nonepidemic areas. The median inoculum level was 20 CFU of G. zeae per spike per day in fields experiencing an epidemic, 4 CFU in locations remote from epidemic fields, 2 CFU in nonepidemic fields, and 1 CFU in locations remote from a source of inoculum in nonepidemic areas. In an epidemic region, inoculum levels near corn stubble reached up to 587 CFU of G. zeae per spike per day, and the median inoculum level of 126 CFU was significantly higher than the median of 13 CFU found near wheat residue. Inoculum was not detected or occurred sporadically during extended dry periods. While inoculum increased during rainy periods, timing of increased levels was variable. Fusarium head blight epidemics were associated with multiple inoculation episodes and coincident wet periods.
- Fusarium graminearum