Fusarium Seed Infection Surveillance Project Interim Report

March 2021 – Lacombe AB

Alberta Seed Processors (ASP) is releasing an interim report on Fusarium graminearum seed infection survey results. These results are part of a new phase of fusarium head blight management in Alberta.

As part of the federal government’s Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), ASP launched a 3-year project in the fall of 2020 to survey Alberta fusarium seed infection. The main goal of this project is to better understand how farmers can manage, control and prevent the devastating disease.

The project’s success results from the collaboration between value chain partners. ASP is collaborating with three Alberta seed labs, including SGS Canada, Seed Check Technologies and 20/20 Seed Labs, to gather data. Dr. Michael Harding, Research Scientist -Plant and Bee Health Surveillance Section of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry reviewed the data and developed the maps. Alberta Wheat & Barley Commissions supplied further agronomic and management input.

“This project directly aligns with ASP’s goals of supporting agriculture in Alberta by constantly improving the services and capacity of our seed and grain processors so we can ensure the agricultural value chain has opportunity for the best possible outcomes by identifying possible limiting factors,” says Monica Klaas, ASP’s General Manager.

The project is made possible with funding through the CAP program. CAP funding consists of a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments. CAP looks to provide funding to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector and ensure continued innovation, growth and prosperity.


This report covers seed tested between September 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. It is assumed the seed is from production in the 2020 crop year and is destined for seed purposes in 2021.

Data was collected from three Alberta-based seed testing labs and then amalgamated into one database. The database includes seed testing results for both farm-saved seed and pedigreed seed. The data is catalogued by postal code; and grouped according to a municipality.

Understanding pathogen sources is foundational in integrated pest management (IPM). Fusarium head blight (FHB) infection, caused by Fusarium graminearum (Fg), comes from two basic sources: wind-blown spores from crop residues such as stubble and stover/stalks, and infected seed. This project only documents detections of Fg seed infection and does not attempt to measure or quantify the risk of FHB from crop residues. It can be assumed that where there was seed infection, there was likely field infection due to wind-blown Fg spores. Therefore, we assume areas with significant levels of Fg (> 2%) have the pathogen established in the crop residues in that local area or field, and have elevated recommendations for FHB management.

Sample location is reported based on the postal code to which the sample results were sent. As a result, the second assumption is that the samples tested were produced in corresponding the municipalities where the results were sent. However, this may not be the case and therefore some sample results may be sourced from a different municipality depending on field location. For example, the map shows samples within urban municipalities-i.e.: samples tagged to Calgary or Edmonton. This means the seed sample results were sent to a postal code within those city limits but does not necessarily mean the seed was produced within city limits. Additionally, it is unknown if the grain tested will be used for seed in the future.

Despite these assumptions and limitations, the map is a helpful guide. Used in conjunction with other FHB management tools such as the Fusarium Head Blight Environmental Risk Map https://agriculture.alberta.ca/acis/m#!fusarium, the information can help producers evaluate risk and plan appropriate management responses. For example, in or near areas of higher disease incidence, growers are advised to participate in as many preventative FHB management activities as possible or warranted based on the risk of infection. Management activities could include using long, diverse crop rotations (2–3-yearbreak from host crops such as wheat and corn), planting seed with the best varietal resistance to FHB, using seed with low or no Fg infection, using seed treatment with ‘Fusarium’ on the label, regular field scouting, and foliar spray protection when warranted, and within IPM guidelines. Further recommendations for FHB management can be found at: https://managefhb.ca/.

Download this Interim Report by clicking here.