Management of Small Grain Diseases
Small grain crops, such as wheat, barley, oats, and rye, are used for human consumption, in malting and brewing, as livestock feed, as hay and straw, and in biofuel production. Despite many uses, small grains are often less economical for farmers than crops such as corn and soybeans, and production of small grains in the U.S. has declined significantly over the past 20 years. Profitability has declined partly because diseases have impacted grain yield and quality. Various blights and rust diseases have devastated small grain crops across the U.S., resulting in lost bushels of grain, economic hardship on farms, and disruption of entire rural communities. These diseases have wide geographic ranges and often require complicated management strategies. To manage these diseases, strategies must be comprehensive, cost-effective, and well-coordinated. Furthermore, scientists need to collaborate across states and disciplines so that they can provide up-to-date, pertinent information to farmers. Better disease management will help small grains farmers remain competitive in international markets and assure an ample supply of high-quality grain for people around the world.