“In 2019, Sclerotinia has made its mark across most of the sunflower region,” says Alison Pokrzywinski, Nuseed’s Sunflower Product Development Manager of North America.
We’ve seen it north to south and east to west this year. If a field was not being scouted this fall it can catch a grower off-guard by all of a sudden seeing the dreadful “broomstick” look from the road or watching heads fall apart as the combine rolls through. This disease starts to set in either before or after bloom when moisture or heavy dew is present along with favorable temperatures (59-75 F).
Unfortunately, there has not been a solid solution found for growers to help combat head rot. Rotation can help (but spores can still come in from neighboring fields), along with diversifying your portfolio to spread out risk (hybrids, planting dates, etc). There is no such thing as true resistance to this disease, only higher or lower levels of tolerance. Even in 2019, our best products to help combat Sclerotinia Head Rot are still succumbing to this dreaded disease.
To learn more about Sclerotinia Head Rot and other diseases that can affect sunflowers, refer to the Sunflower Disease Diagnostic Series.