Evaluation of wheat production practices under wheat streak mosaic disease risk and wheat stem sawfly pressure in Montana
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Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is an economically important crop for Montana's agricultural industry. Wheat streak mosaic (WSM) is an important viral disease in Montana and the wheat stem sawfly (WSS; Cephus cinctus Norton) is a major insect pest in the state. Understanding these disease and pest problems and the factors that promote and suppress disease and pest pressure forms the foundation for a successful integrated pest management program. In this dissertation, we evaluate wheat production practices in Montana and provide information on the effectiveness and implications of cultural and chemical management practices in mitigating WSM disease and WSS pressure. We assessed the tolerance of popular winter wheat, spring wheat, and barley cultivars in Montana to mechanical inoculation with WSMV in field studies. Winter wheat 'Brawl CL Plus' and breeding lines CO12D922 and MTV1681 demonstrated moderate WSMV incidence and minor yield penalties under WSMV inoculation, making them suitable cultivars to be grown in high-risk environments. We investigated the effects of cultivar choice, planting date, and seeding rate on grain yield and quality parameters in field studies. Our results validated current planting date recommendations for Montana. Yield reductions were observed at planting dates later than mid-September and April for winter wheat and spring wheat, respectively. No yield increase was observed when winter wheat was planted before mid-September. No meaningful and reliable economic benefits were associated with an increase in seeding rate beyond the recommended density. We developed a WSM risk prediction model and released it as the online learning tool AWaRe ('Assessment of Wheat streak mosaic Risk'). AWaRe presents the first learning tool that integrates complex information on the dynamics underlying WSM disease and relates them to the user in an interactive way. We expect the adoption of risk assessment based WSM management practices that result in a reduced economic impact through the use of this tool. The potential of different insecticides to manage WSS damage was compared to spring wheat genotypes with varying degrees of WSS resistance. Results showed that application of the systemic insecticide Thimet-20G provided effective protection of susceptible cultivar 'Reeder,' but use of solid-stem cultivars were similarly effective.