Fungicides used to control Fusarium head blight (FHB) are commonly applied at the wheat growth stage considered to be most susceptible, i.e., anthesis. We compared the efficacy of the most commonly used fungicide groups that were applied following two strategies: (i) at pre-defined growth stages, from the first half of heading to the end of flowering (experiment 1, in 2013 to 2015), or (ii) based on timing of infection by F. graminearum, specifically at 10, 7, 4, or 1 day before, or 3 or 5 days after artificial inoculation of the fungus (experiment 2, in 2017 and 2018). Fungicide efficacy was evaluated in terms of FHB incidence, FHB severity, and DON contamination by using generalised mixed models. In experiment 1, all fungicide groups reduced FHB severity and DON but only by <50% compared to an untreated control, with no differences among fungicides or growth stages at time of application. In experiment 2, the efficacy of fungicides was higher for applications at 1 or 4 days before inoculation than at 7 or 10 days before or 3 or 5 days after inoculation, with differences among fungicide groups. Based on our results, the timing of fungicide application for FHB control should be based on the time of F. graminearum infection rather than on wheat phenology.
- Deoxynivalenol (DON)
- Fungicide efficacy
- Fungicide timing
- Fusarium graminearum
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM)