AMARILLO – Multiple wheat viral pathogens affect wheat grown in the Texas High Plains and cause devastating losses to wheat production, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Research experts.

This year, however, a system has been developed to give producers a “heads up” on advancing disease outbreaks and advice on management, according to Dr. Charlie Rush,AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Amarillo, and senior research associate Jacob Price.

The devastating diseases wheat producers could face each year include those caused by the mite-transmitted viruses of wheat streak mosaic virus, triticum mosaic virus and wheat mosaic virus or High Plains virus, and barley yellow dwarf virus, which is transmitted by aphids, Rush said.

“In many cases, the diseases caused by these pathogens look very similar to drought stress or nutrient deficiency, therefore they are not identified until costly irrigation and fertilizer applications have been applied,” he said.

Until recently, no system has existed to alert producers to the detection of these wheat viruses during the growing season or to the onset of disease epidemics throughout the Texas Panhandle, Price said.

But in the past year, the AgriLife Research plant pathology program in Amarillo has developed a “Wheat Virus Early Detection System” to alert AgriLife Extension agents, crop consultants and producers to disease identification throughout the High Plains, he said.The system will provide results of pathogens detected during testing at the Plant Disease Clinic at the Amarillo center.

“When wheat viral diseases are first identified within individual counties, an alert email will be sent to members on the wheat virus email list,” Price said. “Included in the alert will be a website link that will contain information on counties and dates where the viral diseases have been identified, diagnostics and visual identification information, and management options.”

Those interested in signing up for the group email notifications can go to http://bit.ly/1sVKFfA .

Both Rush and Price assured potential members that no specific information, such as name or address of the submitter/producer, will be included. Anyone can become a member of the email list and all personal information, including email addresses, will be kept confidential.

For more information, contact Price at 806-677-5600 or japrice@ag.tamu.edu .