Source: UNIV OF WISCONSIN submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Oct 1, 2010
Project End Date
Jan 31, 2013
Grant Year
Project Director
Conley, SH.
Recipient Organization
21 N PARK ST STE 6401
MADISON,WI 53715-1218
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
Winter wheat is a critical crop for Wisconsin's dairy and row crop producers. Since 2000, winter wheat production in Wisconsin has increased by 250% and the value of production has increased 8-fold, providing an excellent source of income for Wisconsin producers (Source: USDA-NASS). In addition to income from grain, winter wheat also provides straw for use on the dairy and an excellent rotational crop for corn, soybean, and alfalfa production. We estimate that, when conditions for planting in the fall are most favorable, winter wheat acreage could reach approximately 500K acres, indicating there is still room for expansion. A key limiting factor for winter wheat production in Wisconsin is yield loss due to diseases. In both 2008 and 2009, winter wheat production was affected by Fusarium head blight (Fusarium graminearum), both in the field, and post-harvest when growers were docked at elevators for having levels of deoxynivalenol (DON), a mycotoxin, above the FDA mandated threshold level of 2 ppm. In 2009, we have also seen an increase in the number of questions about the risk of mycotoxin contamination in hail-affected corn (and soybean), indicating that our proposed research has broader implications beyond wheat. We propose an Interdisciplinary and Integrative Research and Extension project, which fits the mission of both PIs (Conley and Esker) programs. As State Specialists in the area of field crop production, we aim to provide information of highest relevance for our stakeholders in the state, while also provide new and novel research that has broader implications. Within Wisconsin, this research fits into areas of need for: (i) mechanisms of pest and pathogen resistance and safe and effective control, with minimum effects on environmental quality and human health, (ii) sustainable agricultural and forestry production and processing systems that provide improve food safety and security, environmental protection, economically viable communities, protection of public goods, and human well-being, and (iii) research and development related to agricultural processes with the potential to enhance the productivity and quality of livestock and food and bio-fuel crops in a sustainable manner. We need further research to understand both the short- and long-term risk associated with Fusarium spp., and how best to develop "Best Management Practices" to reduce this risk. Additionally, our proposed research links into a regional and national scale by providing up-to-date information specifically for Wisconsin that can be used to improve upon existing management tools like the Fusarium head blight prediction center (
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
We propose to characterize and quantify the effect of the Fusarium spp. complex on soft red winter wheat grown in Wisconsin. Winter wheat is an economically important crop for Wisconsin growers and in 2008 became the #1 small grain grown in WI (acreage). At a value of $133 million, it provides significant income for WI producers (Source: USDA-NASS). Additionally, it is an excellent rotational crop with corn and soybean, as well as a source of feed and straw for the dairy industry. Therefore, improving the agronomic performance of winter wheat in Wisconsin is critical, especially to improve our understanding of how the Fusarium spp. complex impacts wheat yield under Wisconsin's different rotational systems. In the past two years (2008 and 2009), wheat production across the state has been affected by Fusarium head blight caused primarily by the fungus Fusarium graminearum. However, this is only one of multiple Fusarium spp. we hypothesize can impact wheat production. Much research has been done on the effects of Fusarium spp. on wheat grain yield and quality, however, little is known regarding this complex in terms of initial stand establishment. Additionally, recently published results and our own preliminary data suggest that Fusarium spp., in particular, F. graminearum, can infect soybean. Therefore, this project has broader impact beyond winter wheat for Wisconsin's producers as soybean is grown on ~1.6 millions acres with an annual economic value of $ 0.5 billion. The proposed research project includes both Research and Extension components. The objectives of this project are: (1) Quantify the effect of crop rotation and management on Fusarium spp diversity and population dynamics; (2) Quantify the effect of crop rotation and management on winter wheat yield and quality (deoxynivalenol, DON); (3) Model the economic effect of Fusarium spp. on winter wheat production; (4) Train and educate stakeholders on the role of Fusariam spp. on winter wheat production in Wisconsin.
Project Methods
Objectives 1 and 2. The proposed research will be conducted in the field trials that are established in the long-term rotation trial at the Arlington ARS. This trial was established in 2002 and contains 4 wheat rotations. The experimental design is a randomized complete block split-split plot design, replicated three times. The factors include the following components: (i) main plot = rotation; (ii) split plot = variety; (iii) split-split plot = management. In 2010, plots will be established no-till in late September/early October at a seeding rate of 3,700,000 seeds ha-1. The experimental unit will measure 3 x 13 m. Approximately 10 soil cores will be obtained from each main plot and assessed for Fusarium spp. diversity using standard methods for identification based on growth and morphological characteristics. A combination of soil sampling, standcounts, Fusarium rot assessments, foliar disease assessments, Fusarium head blight and myctoxin assessments, grain yield, and weather data will be collected for analyses to compare treatments. All analyses will be conducted using SAS software, and either the PROC MIXED or PROC GLIMMIX procedure, as appropriate, for single measures. Additionally, given that we expect to have a vector of responses for Fusarium spp. diversity (the dependent variable), multivariate methods, including MANOVA and clustering methods, will be used to examine how different cropping and management tactics affect species diversity. Objective 3: We propose to develop a three-stage hierarchical economic risk assessment model for Fusarium spp. In this approach, the factors that must be considered are: Level 1: pre-plant (bin run versus certified seed; use of fungicide seed treatments); Levels 2 and 3: use or non-use of foliar fungicides and the associated risk of Fusarium head blight and mycotoxin contamination. In the former (Level 1), we are able to work with existing seed treatment trial data in order to develop a baseline for the economic return on investment (i.e., does expected yield with seed treatment offset the cost of treatment and at what probability). To do this, we propose to use a Bayesian statistical analysis that examines economically how different active ingredients compare to the untreated control, taking into account the economic cost at the time of the trial (i.e., wheat prices during the trial period, input costs standardized by trial period, including seed treatments). Objective 4: Our proposed research in Objectives 1-3 have direct applications as part of training workshops, including, sessions on the identification and differentiation of Fusarium spp. and their effect on winter wheat, as well as working with participants on the economics of managing Fusarium spp. The graduate RA would be expected to actively participate in these workshops, including material development and teaching. In addition, results from the proposed research would be written up as fact sheets for stakeholders as an Extension publication(s). The graduate RA would also participate in field day workshops, including disease diagnostics and the identification of risk factors associated with Fusarium spp.

Progress 10/01/10 to 01/31/13

OUTPUTS: The of Dr. Paul Esker, the previous PI, coupled with the inability to find a student to accomplish this work meant the scope of this experiment was significantly reduced in 2012. In hopes of finding a student we collected data on the impact of crop rotation, cultivar resistance and fungicide usage on Fusarium graminearum (FHB)incidence, severity, and crop yield. The preliminary results of this experiment were presented at the 2012 Agronomy and Soils field day in August of 2012. The personal challenges with this experiment have led us to move forward with terminating this project effective January 31, 2013. PARTICIPANTS: Not relevant to this project. TARGET AUDIENCES: Crop consultants and growers PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: I have been unable to find a student to accomplish this work. The project was modified to collect data from our long term corn, soybean, wheat rotation at Arlington (what we proposed to do), but the treatment regime was slightly modified to examine the impact of cultivar resistance and fungicide application on FHB incidence and severity and crop yield. We will move forward with terminating this project effective January 31, 2013.

Preliminary results from this experiment suggest that crop rotation, cultivar resistance and foliar fungicides affected wheat yield. Furthermore, fungicide application did lower FHB incidence and severity while increasing crop yield. Preliminary results suggest that even under drought conditions crop management decisions can still impact grain yield and quality.


  • No publications reported this period

Progress 01/01/11 to 12/31/11

OUTPUTS: The overall goal of this project is to improve our understanding of the effects of Fusarium species on field crop production. In order to accomplish this goal, we are using a long-term rotation trial at the University of Wisconsin Agricultural Research Station at Arlington, WI. This rotation involves corn-soybean-wheat as well as different sources of resistance to targeted Fusarium speices. Our original proposal emphasized the effect of rotation, cultivar, and disease management on wheat, however, by leveraging this project with another HATCH project through our Wisconsin Institute of Sustainable Agriculture along with a USDA Corn CAP project and funding through our Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, we are now examining the effects of Fusarium spp. across the three crops (see modifications). The strength in this approach is that we should be able to more successfully understand the effect of crop rotation and variety/cultivar on this complex in order provide the best management options for our stakeholders. In this past year, we successfully completed field trials at Arlington. Data are currently going through quality control for initial analyses. The reason for conducting increased quality control is that through our leveraging of projects, we were able to obtain samples for mycotoxin analyses in corn and wheat. Additionally, in 2011, we reached 45 audiences and approximately 2,500 people regarding information related to work on this project. PARTICIPANTS: Participants in the project have included the following: Paul Esker (Plant Pathology), Shawn Conley (Agronomy), Joe Lauer (Agronomy), David Marburger (Agronomy, graduate student), John Gaska (Agronomy), and Nancy Koval (Plant Pathology). TARGET AUDIENCES: As evidenced in our outcomes/impacts, this project has reached out to a diverse target audience and number (approximately 2,500) of people involved in agriculture. In particular, our activities through writing, winter meetings, and field days and workshops has impacted members of the seed and chemical industry, agricultural producers, certified crop consultants, state extension agents, federal employees, and also members of the media who attend such activities. Our new seed treatment guide has been extremely well-received, as evidenced by the rapid feedback from stakeholders checking on the products and active ingredients. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: As noted in the Outputs section, we were successful in leveraging this project with additional grants from several federal and commodity group sources. As such, this project has been modified by expanding from a single focus on wheat to examining the effects of Fusarium species across corn, soybean, and wheat. We have modified our focus somewhat then to target Fusarium species within each specific crop as well as a generalist species. The overall strength with this approach is that we can better provide management recommendations to our stakeholders.

The main outcomes from this project in 2011 included successful completion of field research trials at our Arlington ARS. The importance of this information is that it is being disseminated through multiple channels (see outputs and publications) to approximately 2,500 stakeholders. Additionally, working with our Nutrient Pest Management program, we were able to complete a new poster guide on seed treatments in corn and soybean. This poster has been extremely well received as we have printed and disseminated well over 1,000 to 2,000 of these to different stakeholders as making this available through the web (


  • Esker, P. and Proost, R. 2011. What's on your seed? Publication of the Nutrient Pest Management Program, University of Wisconsin.
  • Esker, P., and S. P. Conley. 2011. Pairing genetics and fungicides in wheat production. Proc. of the 2011 Wisconsin Crop Management Conference, Vol. 50, Pages 89-92.
  • Esker, P. 2011. Wheat scouting update and disease thresholds. Wisconsin Crop Management 18(10): 39.
  • Esker, P. 2011. Soil temperature and moisture and seed treatments. Wisconsin Crop Manager 18(7): 26-27.
  • Esker, P. 2011. Fusarium head blight - foliar fungicides. Wisconsin Crop Manager 18(12): 47.

Progress 01/01/10 to 12/31/10

OUTPUTS: This project started in October 2010. To date, field trials have been established as defined but there are no major outputs to report at this stage. PARTICIPANTS: Primary participants at this moment: Paul Esker and Shawn Conley. TARGET AUDIENCES: Our target audience will include key stakeholders in the agricultural field, including producers, consultants, seed and chemical industry representatives, local and federal government workers, and colleagues in states outside of Wisconsin. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

This project started in October 2010 and there are no major outcomes/impacts to report at this early stage.


  • No publications reported this period