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© 1997, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


Seed-associated diseases of wheat draw considerable attention because they often reduce both grain quality and yield. In addition ergot and scab diseases bring in a third dimension because toxins associated with each present a potentially serious health risk to humans and animals. Yield losses caused by smuts are roughly equal to the percentage of smutted heads in the field; however, losses from black point, scab or ergot are less easily measured. For example, wheat in the soft dough stage that is infected by one of the scab pathogens may still produce plump, good test weight kernels resulting in minimal yield loss. The down side is that the toxin level in the harvested grain may be higher in these plumper kernels than in the shriveled kernels infected at flowering because many shriveled kernels are lost during combining.