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Common bunt

Area of impact: Head

Description: All or part of the kernels are replaced by light-brown smut balls. Smutted wheat heads look thinner and stay green longer than healthy heads. The fungus smells like rotting fish when crushed. Spores released during threshing are combustible and sparks from threshers have
caused minor explosions.

Pathogen involved: Tilletia tritici (a fungus)

Timing/Conditions: Most infections are started by spores carried into the field on contaminated seeds.

Contributing factors: Spores can oversummer in soil and germinate best when soil temperatures are between 40°F and 60°F.

Management practices: Plant resistant varieties and use chemical seed treatments.

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