Around 73% of the GB winter wheat area
was at moderate risk and 17% at high
risk of fusarium infection during the
flowering period, according to AHDB-
funded monitoring work.
Fusarium is widely distributed in soil and
associated with plants, most species are
harmless, and are relatively abundant
members of the soil microbial community.
Some species produce mycotoxins in
cereal crops that can affect human and
animal health if they enter the food chain
There are legal limits for fusarium
mycotoxins in wheat intended for human
consumption and guidance limits for feed
The owner (farmer, merchant or
processor) is legally obliged to ensure the
grain is safe for human consumption.
The risk results for 2016 are in contrast
to the relatively low fusarium infection risk
reported in 2015.
Due to the highly local nature of infection
risk, growers are reminded to “follow
mycotoxin management guidelines and to
calculate field-level mycotoxin risk scores
for recording on the grain passport”, says
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
Risk level estimates for 2016
Risk levels were estimated based on crop
growth stage information, gathered by an
established network of independent
agronomists covering 30 counties in
England and Scotland, and daily rainfall
Analysis of regional fusarium infection
risk data revealed that of the winter wheat
area in Great Britain (GB):
10% (189,000ha) – with an estimated
tonnage of 1.4Mt – was at low risk
73% (1,320,000ha) – with an estimated
tonnage of 10.1Mt – was at moderate risk
17% (304,000ha) – with an estimated
tonnage of 2.3Mt – was at high risk
<1% (3,000ha) – with an estimated
tonnage of 26,000t – was at very high
Rainfall is a major factor in determining
risk. Due to the localised nature of
showers, a significant variation in
infection risk level was reported across
All GB regions had crops at both low and
moderate fusarium infection risk. The
largest areas of moderate and high-risk
crops were located in the southern and
eastern regions.
Areas with the highest risk levels had a
significant amount of crops in flower as
the weather turned more unsettled from
mid-June onwards.
Dr Dhan Bhandari, who manages grain
quality research at AHDB, said:
“Flowering started at the beginning of
June, when conditions were generally
“The weather turned during the peak
flowering period, which happened from
the middle to the end of June.
“This exposed relatively large areas of
winter wheat to conditions which favour
fusarium infection.”
Regional risk charts
Overview of regional fusarium risk
The above chart shows area of winter
wheat crops in each GB region at high,
medium and low risk of fusarium
The charts reveals the proportion of
winter wheat crops flowering and
estimates of whether they were at ‘very
high’, ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low risk’ of
fusarium infection.
Areas identified with the largest areas of
high-risk crops were located in
Cambridgeshire, Kent, Norfolk, Shropshire
and Staffordshire. In these areas, crops
were often exposed to over 40mm of rain
during the flowering period.
A small proportion of crops were
classified as being at very high risk of
fusarium infection. These were located in
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, which
saw heavy rainfall (up to 26mm) falling
on 14 to 15 June.
Accounting for rain
Dr Bhandari said: “The best indicator of
risk will always be based on field-level
rainfall data recorded during the flowering
period for the crop in the ground.”
Infection risk can be mitigated to some
degree by a T3 spray and the majority of
the wheat area received a well-timed
spray at the start of the flowering period.
Dr Bhandari continued: “As always, there
are exceptions where the weather derails
the best laid plans and interrupts
“Further rainfall, particularly after
ripening, will also allow for secondary
“But the important thing is to record what
happened on the mycotoxin risk
assessment and let the results guide your
management decisions.”