Control of Microdochium majus in winter wheat with botanicals – from laboratory to the field


  • Patent pending



The fungal pathogen Microdochium majus, causing snow mould, seedling blight and foot rot, results in severe yield losses in small grain cereals. There are few options to control this pathogen in organic production. In this study, aqueous extracts or botanical powders prepared from chamomile, meadowsweet, thyme and Chinese galls were tested in vitro against M. majus conidia germination and mycelial growth, respectively. Subsequently, three botanicals were chosen, applied as powders with different seed coating adhesives, and tested for their effect on the incidence of M. majus from naturally infected wheat seed lots and on seedling emergence from soil under controlled environmental conditions. Furthermore, seed treatments with warm water, a bacterial product or one chosen botanical were tested in a growth chamber and in a field experiment over three consecutive years. Of the botanicals tested, Chinese galls showed the highest efficacy in controlling M. majus, reducing conidia germination and mycelial growth by up to 97 and 100%, respectively, and reducing the incidence from infested seeds by up to 59%. In two growth chamber experiments, total seedling emergence increased by up to 30 and 59% compared with the control treatments following an application with Chinese galls. Under field conditions, yield increase through Chinese galls, the bacterial product and the warm water treatment was 19, 10 and 37% compared with the untreated control, respectively. This study demonstrates the potential of Chinese galls to control M. majus in wheat. Options for improved formulations or combinations of heat-based treatments with Chinese galls are discussed.