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Dryland virus worries surface


HERMISTON, Ore. -- A relatively new disease in the Northwest presents a significant threat to dryland wheat, Oregon State University Extension cereals specialist Mike Flowers said.


Speaking Dec. 1 at the Hermiston Farm Fair, Flowers said soilborne wheat mosaic virus could trigger yield losses approaching 80 percent in dryland wheat.


And once the virus enters a field, it is next to impossible to remove, he said.


"Once you get it, it is not going to go away," Flowers said.


The virus can survive 10 to 15 years in a field without a host, he said. No chemicals are available to control it, he said.


The only way to manage for the virus is to plant resistant varieties, he said.


Flowers said the disease probably has been present in low levels in the Northwest for as long as 10 years.


A cool, wet spring this year created ideal conditions for the virus, and, for the first time, it became noticeable, he said.


Flowers said soft white wheat varieties are available with resistance to the virus. Hard red wheat varieties, grown extensively in the Great Plains, where the virus is common, typically are resistant, he said.


The virus is transported primarily through movement of soil, he said.


-- Mitch Lies



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