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Glickman Announces $3 Million Boost For Research to Combat Wheat Scab

By Don Comis
March 8, 1999

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., March 8--Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend an additional $3 million per year on research to combat Fusarium head blight, more commonly known as wheat scab.

“This is a substantial, needed boost to our already aggressive, national effort to stop scab,” Glickman said, in a speech to the National Farmers Union Convention. The new funding builds on the $500,000 that USDA has allocated for scab research each year since 1997.

Fusarium head blight, a fungal disease, shrivels kernels of wheat and other cereal grain crops such as barley. It also produces toxins that can make crops unsuitable for flour, cereals or malt--and too toxic for sale as animal feed. From 1991 to 1997, American farmers lost 470 million bushels of wheat, worth $2.6 billion, because of the scab epidemic.

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service will distribute the new funds to university researchers and ARS research facilities. The researchers are part of the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, a consortium of 20 state universities, supported by more than 40 national wheat- and barley-related organizations and numerous individuals.

“Minnesota and the Dakotas, hit hard by this destructive disease, play a major role in this research,” Glickman said. “From 1993 to 1998, Red River Valley communities in those states suffered more economic damage from scab-induced crop failures than from the 1997 floods.”

Researchers at North Dakota State University at Fargo will receive a total of $833,000, including $221,000 for food safety research and $53,000 for biological control and pesticide development. University of Minnesota at St. Paul researchers will receive $338,000, including $137,000 to further expand efforts to develop scab-resistant spring wheat for the area. The seed for a scab-tolerant transitional spring wheat is expected to be released to growers this spring. This is the third variety developed by ARS and the University of Minnesota that offers limited scab resistance, but it is the first to maintain high yields.

The funds will be distributed to scientists at land-grant universities and ARS labs, as follows:

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark. - $39,000

University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. - $15,000

University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill. - $87,000

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. - $126,000

Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan. - $34,000

University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky. - $49,000

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La. - $15,000

University of Maryland, College Park, Md. - $5,000

Michigan State University, Lansing, Mich. - $410,000

University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn. - $338,000

University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo. - $122,000

University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb. - $86,000

Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. - $45,000

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. - $44,000

North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D. - $833,000

Ohio State University, Wooster, Ohio - $135,000

South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D. - $160,000

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va. - $39,000

Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. - $29,000

ARS Crop Improvement and Utilization Research Unit, Albany, Calif. - $50,000

ARS Bioactive Agents Research Unit, Peoria, Ill. - $72,000

ARS Soybean and Alfalfa Research Laboratory, Beltsville, Md. - $45,000

ARS Cereal Disease Lab, St. Paul, Minn. - $90,000

ARS Plant Science Research Unit, Raleigh, N.C. - $15,000

ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit, Fargo, N.D. - $50,000

ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit, Madison, Wis. - $35,000

Scientific contact: Roy Gingery, National Program Leader for Plant Health, ARS, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-6915,

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