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Wheat streak mosaic virus on the increase in North Dakota this fall

The North Dakota State University Diagnostic Lab and field scouts are reporting an increase in wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) this year.

This disease has been reported statewide in winter and spring wheat, plus durum. The levels of severity range from slight to severe. There are three possible reasons for the increase:

* Fall 2008 was wet, so many green grasses, volunteers and corn were present late into the season. This allowed for a continuous green bridge for the survival of the mite vector and virus.
* A heavy snow cover in many areas gave the mites and virus better chances of surviving.
* A cool, wet spring hampered the herbicide "burn-down" of weeds and volunteers and delayed spring planting.

To reduce the risk of carrying this disease into winter wheat this fall and subsequent spring crops next year, management steps must be taken now to break the green bridge that allows the mites and virus to survive, according to Joel Ransom, NDSU Extension Service agronomist and Marcia McMullen, NDSU Extension Service plant pathologist. The green bridge consists of host plants, such as wheat, corn, volunteer wheat and grassy weed hosts.

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