Written collaboratively by Emmanuel Byamukama and Melanie Caffe.
Some oat fields are showing plants wilting with tillers dying prematurely and heads looking bleached. Inspecting the crown and sub-crown area reveals the discoloration and rotting and sometimes a pinkish color can be observed (Figure 1-A). These are typical symptoms of Fusarium root and crown rot. This disease is not common in oats and only a few oat varieties were found with this disease (Figure 1-B).
These symptoms may be confused with Fusarium head blight (FHB) which also causes oat heads to be bleached. However, the difference is that FHB does not prematurely kill leaves. Barley yellow dwarf is another disease that can cause oat leaves to die prematurely but will not cause the head to bleach or the root and crown to rot.
Fusarium crown and root rot can be managed by selecting oat varieties that are tolerant to this disease. Although this disease is not common and resistance information is not available at this time, an oat variety that is showing plants dying prematurely due to this disease should not be selected for the next growing season. Fields showing symptoms of this disease should be planted with fungicide seed treated oats the next growing season, especially if planting into corn stubble.