Fungal disease threatens Swedish wheat harvest

Fungal disease threatens Swedish wheat harvest
The wheat harvest in many parts of Sweden is under threat by the fungus disease Tilletia contraversa (dwarf bunt).

The Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) has found several of the disease in Södermanland and now fears a wider distribution in central Sweden.

“For growers, this is a big setback, because the harvest may be unmarketable,” said Alf Djurberg, agronomist at the Board of Agriculture, to Sveriges Radio news programme Ekot.

Dwarf bunt is not in itself dangerous, but the spores from the fungus smell awful and render the wheat useless as food.

The last time central Sweden was hit by dwarf bunt was in 1994, when there was also an outbreak of common bunt, something that the board can not preclude could also exist this year.

It is not yet known how large the outbreak is but since the spores spread easily at harvest the board has now advised farmers to do an extra inspection of their crops.

In addition to harvest disease this year’s crops have been hit hard by the long and snowy winter. The drought in July has also impacted yields from crops sown in the spring.

The latest forecast from agriculture interest organisation Lantmännen forecasts a harvest of 4.6 million tonnes of cereals and oilseeds. Last year, the figure was 5.2 million tonnes.

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