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Rainfall and Temperature Distinguish Between Karnal Bunt Positive and Negative Years in Wheat Fields in Texas

January 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  1
Pages  95 - 100

F. Workneh, T. W. Allen, G. H. Nash, B. Narasimhan, R. Srinivasan, and C. M. Rush

First, second, and sixth authors: Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Bushland 79012; third author: USDA-APHIS-PPQ, Austin 78701; fourth and fifth authors, Spatial Science Laboratory, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843.

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Accepted for publication 15 July 2007.

Karnal bunt of wheat, caused by the fungus Tilletia indica, is an internationally regulated disease. Since its first detection in central Texas in 1997, regions in which the disease was detected have been under strict federal quarantine regulations resulting in significant economic losses. A study was conducted to determine the effect of weather factors on incidence of the disease since its first detection in Texas. Weather variables (temperature and rainfall amount and frequency) were collected and used as predictors in discriminant analysis for classifying bunt-positive and -negative fields using incidence data for 1997 and 2000 to 2003 in San Saba County. Rainfall amount and frequency were obtained from radar (Doppler radar) measurements. The three weather variables correctly classified 100% of the cases into bunt-positive or -negative fields during the specific period overlapping the stage of wheat susceptibility (boot to soft dough) in the region. A linear discriminant-function model then was developed for use in classification of new weather variables into the bunt occurrence groups (+ or −). The model was evaluated using weather data for 2004 to 2006 for San Saba area (central Texas), and data for 2001 and 2002 for Olney area (north-central Texas). The model correctly predicted bunt occurrence in all cases except for the year 2004. The model was also evaluated for site-specific prediction of the disease using radar rainfall data and in most cases provided similar results as the regional level evaluation. The humid thermal index (HTI) model (widely used for assessing risk of Karnal bunt) agreed with our model in all cases in the regional level evaluation, including the year 2004 for the San Saba area, except for the Olney area where it incorrectly predicted weather conditions in 2001 as unfavorable. The current model has a potential to be used in a spray advisory program in regulated wheat fields.

Additional keywords:canonical discriminant analysis, Karnal bunt forecast, smut.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2008