Fungicides are most warranted for control of Fusarium head blight (FHB), a disease of wheat caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum, when wet, rainy conditions occur during anthesis. However, it is unclear whether rainfall directly following application affects fungicide efficacy against FHB and its associated toxin, deoxynivalenol (DON). The objective of this study was to determine the rainfastness of the fungicide tebuconazole + prothioconazole and the residual life of tebuconazole when applied to wheat spikes at anthesis in combination with the nonionic surfactant Induce. Three field experiments were conducted during 2012 and 2013 in Wooster, OH. Simulated rainfall of a fixed intensity and duration was applied to separate plots at five different times after the fungicide treatment (0, 60, 105, 150, or 195 min). Spike samples were collected at 4-day intervals after fungicide application and assayed for tebuconazole residue. A similar set of greenhouse experiments was conducted using six post-fungicide-application rainfall timing treatments (0, 15, 30, 60, 120, or 180 min). All experiments were inoculated at anthesis with spores of F. graminearum, and FHB index (IND) and DON were quantified. In four of the five experiments, all fungicide-treated experimental units (EUs) had significantly lower mean IND and DON than the untreated check, regardless of rainfall treatment. Among rainfall treatments, EUs that received the earliest rains after fungicide application tended to have the highest numerical mean IND and DON, but were generally not significantly different from EUs that received later rain or fungicide without rain. In both years, fungicide residue on wheat spikes decreased rapidly with time after application, but the rate of reduction varied somewhat between years, with a half-life of 6 to 9 days. Rainfall treatment did not have a significant effect on the rate of residue reduction or the level of residue at a fixed sampling time after fungicide application. In this study, tebuconazole + prothioconazole mixed with a nonionic surfactant was fairly rainfast for a fixed set of rainfall characteristics, and tebuconazole residue did not persist very long after application on wheat spikes.
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