Blog: The Wheat Sheaf

Fusarium Head Blight Risk Tool for Alberta is Here

Worried about FHB? The Fusarium Head Blight Risk assessment tool for Alberta is live!

Here it is: Fusarium Disease Severity Risk

Alberta Wheat Commission initiated a collaboration with Ralph Wright and Dr. Pavel Pytlak at Alberta Climate Information Services (ACIS), Agriculture and Forestry (AF) plant pathologist Dr. Michael Harding, AF crop specialist Neil Whatley, Agriculture, Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) plant disease researcher Dr. Kelly Turkington and industry partners to provide this tool to Alberta wheat growers.

This is not a province wide map, it is better. It is a local disease severity risk assessment tool designed to be viewed on mobile devices.  Pawel Pytlak, coder with ACIS has delivered a risk tool that pulls data from more than 300 weather stations across Alberta to provide a localized risk warning gauge. Each day ACIS collects nearly 130,000 hourly weather observations from over 370 stations province wide.  All these observations are available on line at  Weather conditions have enormous impacts on farming operations.  Coupling the weather observations to a risk tool, like the FHB one Pawel developed is a fantastic example of how weather data can be used to help producers make timely,  informed decisions.

To access the FHB risk gauge when a grower opens the webpage on their mobile device they should click on the red pin in the top right corner which opens a map of Alberta with all weather stations marked with a green dot. They then should zoom in on the green dot nearest to their field and touch the dot. This brings up the FHB disease severity (DSI) gauge for that location.

The DSI is calculated using the Manitoba model based on air temperature, relative humidity and rainfall over the previous 7 days. (It is currently 10 days but in the process of being shortened to 7)

The mobile website also has a provincial map of Alberta with of the DSI for every weather station and under the info tab information of best management practices.

The website will have a few changes in the coming days but we hope that this tool will be used by growers as an aid is decision making for fungicide applications targeted at containing FHB. Remember the DSI is not a forecast it is a risk gauge. Growers need to be aware of other risk factors such as stage of the crop, the level of fusarium infestation in their county, the susceptibility of the variety seeded, if seed was infected with fusarium, if a seed treatment was used, the history of the crop rotation in the field, and past stubble and straw management. 

Finally, the Alberta Wheat Commission will be working with plant pathologists at AAF and AAFC and ACIS staff to verify and ground truth the Manitoba model – to see if it is accurate for our Alberta conditions. This will take place over a few successive seasons to complete, and any adjustments if necessary will be done with future iterations of the model/map. For now, the map is a useful tool to assess risk and it may be improved with time to be more specific to our Alberta situation.


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