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Small grain disease forecasting model available

South Dakota farmers now have access to a crop disease forecasting program that their counterparts in North Dakota have used for years.

The small grain disease forecasting model uses weather conditions, including rainfall, temperature and relative humidity, to predict the likelihood of a particular crop disease in a particular area during a specific period of time. The goal is to help farmers apply the proper fungicide at the right time, or to avoid making an unnecessary fungicide application.

“I think it will benefit growers tremendously if used carefully,” says Emmanuel Byamukama, a South Dakota State University plant pathologist involved with the project.

“If there’s no need for fungicide application, then the grower will save money from unnecessary fungicide,” he says.

“Also, if the system warns the grower that now is a good time to apply fungicide, that means that it will be a timely fungicide,” he says.

Byamukama says he’s not aware of any similar tool available to South Dakota farmers.

According to information from SDSU:

  • Plant diseases need a host, a pathogen and a conducive environment to develop.

  • The host and most pathogens are always present, so the environment becomes the key factor. For instance, crop disease is more likely to develop if dew is present on leaves for an extended period.

  • The forecasting system SDSU is using aims to help growers protect the two top plant leaves, which contribute the most to grain yields.

  • Weather data used in the model comes from the South Dakota office of Climatology and weather stations across the state.

To bring the program to South Dakota, the plant pathology department at SDSU partnered with the North Dakota State University plant pathology department, which originally developed the program.

The impetus to bring the program to South Dakota came from Skaukat Ali, says Andrew Friskop, NDSU Extension plant pathologist. Friskop is responsible for managing cereal diseases in North Dakota and works with the NDSU crop disease forecasting program.

Ali, now a professor in SDSU’s plant pathology department, once worked for the NDSU plant pathology department and brought the program to South Dakota when he came to SDSU, Byamukama says.

SDSU Extension is paying NDSU a $2,000 annual fee to use the system, Byamukama says.

Friskop described the payment as a “licensing fee.”

The North Dakota program is available at

The South Dakota program can be found at smallgrains.