Weather, Research Bring Relief from New
By Don Comis
September 3, 1999
A sudden drop in winter temperature
coupled with a dry spring brought temporary relief to most barley growers in
the Pacific Northwest this year. The weather prevented a buildup of a fungal
disease called barley stripe rust.
But weather is fickle, so growers can also rely on new, research-based
controls they didn't have in 1995, when this disease began plaguing the
Northwest's barley crop.
Barley stripe rust spreads by powdery, yellow spores that look like rust and
form large, yellow stripes between leaf veins. It can quickly cover leaves and
barley heads and suck the plant dry. It can wipe out a farmers entire
harvest, but this year the damage was minimal in most fields.
In 1995, Northwestern farmers had almost no control options: no resistant
barley variety and no adequate registered fungicide. Their options are
increasing, thanks to Agricultural Research
Service scientists like Roland F. Line and Darrell M. Wesenberg. ARS is the
principal research agency of the U.S. Department
Line, a plant pathologist at ARS
Wheat Genetics, Quality,
Physiology, and Disease Research Unit in Pullman, Wash., helped get
emergency approval of the fungicide Folicur from the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He is
helping make two more fungicides available.
Wesenberg, an agronomist with ARS'
Small Grains and Potato
Germplasm Research Unit at Aberdeen, Idaho, developed Bancroft, the first
rust-resistant barley adapted to the Pacific Northwest. It will be available
for commercial production this year. He did this with help from Line and an
international research team. Genetic engineering offers the possibility of more
strongly resistant varieties in the future.
Line and colleagues have identified 26 genes for resistance so far and have
spent the past summer evaluating more barley plants. The genes should be easier
to find because of a new technique they developed for finding gene markers
linked to rust resistance.
For more information on barley rust research, see the story on the web at:
Scientific contacts:Roland F. Line, ARS Wheat Genetics, Quality,
Physiology and Disease Research Unit, Pullman, Wash., phone (509) 335-3755, fax
(509) 335-7674, firstname.lastname@example.org.; Darrell M.
Wesenberg, ARS Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit, Aberdeen, ID,
phone (208) 397-4162 (ext. 108), fax (208) 397-4165,