Organic Grains

Integrated Disease Management in Organic Grains

The project titled “Identifying and Expanding Integrated Disease Management Resources to include Organic Grains in Support of Organic and Transitional North Central Farms” aims to increase the success of organic grain farms in the North Central Region.

The demand for domestically-produced organic grain continues to increase, offering the opportunity for farmers in North Central Region to diversify their crop rotations and increase opportunities for the integration of cover crops. However, high disease incidence affects both quality and yield of organic grain, significantly limiting the expansion of acres. While organic farmers use a combination of strategies, including crop variety selection and crop rotation, to minimize disease occurrence, a dearth of information exists as to the efficacy of low-risk and organic-approved inputs to augment an integrated, ecological approach to disease management.

Additionally, while cover crops managed as green or killed mulches are increasingly used as an ecological weed management tool (1), regionally-specific research is lacking regarding the impact of these cropping systems approaches on disease occurrence and management.

This project aims to develop integrated disease management tools, providing farmers with rigorous, replicated data to optimally combine genetic, agronomic, and input-based tools into an Integrated Disease Management Plan. An evaluation network will be developed to provide unbiased, replicated university data on OMRI approved products and cultural practices for organic grain crops.

This project will initially focus research on three critical diseases in North Central grain production.

  1. Fusarium head blight on wheat (caused by Fusarium graminearum),
  2. White mold on soybean (caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum),
  3. Tar spot of corn (caused by Phyllachora maydis).

Research results will contribute to the development of integrated disease management extension and outreach material aimed towards organic farmers working in Midwest grain cropping systems. Learn more.