Barley Sharp Eyespot Control – Tips For Treating Barley Sharp Eyespot Disease

Barley Sharp Eyespot Control – Tips For Treating Barley Sharp Eyespot Disease

By: Mary Ellen Ellis

Barley, wheat and other grains are susceptible to a fungal disease called sharp eyespot. Fortunately, if you see sharp eyespot on barley growing in your garden, it shouldn’t have a big impact on yield. However, infections can become severe and prevent barley from growing to maturity. Know the signs of sharp eyespot and what to do about it if it turns up in your garden.

What is Barley Sharp Eyespot?

Sharp eyespot is a fungal disease caused by Rhizoctonia solani, a fungus that also causes rhizoctonia root rot. Sharp eyespot can infect barley but also other grains, including wheat. Infections are most likely in soils that are light and that drain well. The fungus is also more likely to attack and infect when temperatures are cool and humidity high. Cool springs favor barley sharp eyespot.

Symptoms of Barley with Sharp Eyespot

The name sharp eyespot is descriptive of the lesions you’ll see on affected barley. Leaf sheaths and the culm will develop lesions that are oval in shape and that have a dark brown edge. The shape and coloring are like a cat’s eye. Eventually, the center of the lesion rots out, leaving a hole behind.

As the infection progresses and when it is more severe, the roots will become affected, turning brown and growing in fewer numbers. The disease can also cause barley to become stunted and the kernels or heads to bleach and turn white.

Treating Barley Sharp Eyespot

In commercial grain growing, sharp eyespot is not a major source of crop loss. Infections tend to be more severe and widespread when a grain is grown in the same soil year after year. If you grow barley, you can rotate the location to prevent buildup of the fungi in the soil that can cause more serious outbreaks of disease.

Preventative measures also include using seeds that are certified disease-free and amending your soil to be heavier and more fertile. Pick up plant debris each year if you have had an infection in your grain. This will limit the disease in the soil. You may try using fungicides to treat sharp eyespot, but it is typically not necessary. You should still get a good yield even if you see some lesions on your grain.

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Barley Sharp Eyespot Control - Tipps fir d'Behandlung vu Gerste Sharp Eyespot Krankheet

Gerste, Weess an aner Käre sinn ufälleg fir eng Pilzkrankheet genannt schaarfen Aenpot. Glécklecherweis, wann Dir e schaarfen Aenfleck op Gerste wuesse an Ärem Gaart gesinn, sollt et kee groussen Impakt op d'Rendement hunn. Wéi och ëmmer, Infektiounen kënne schwéier ginn a verhënneren datt Gerste bis zu der Reife wuessen. Wësst d'Zeeche vun engem schaarfen Aenpot a wat maache maache wann et an Ärem Gaart kënnt.

การรักษา Barley Sharp Eyespot

ในการปลูกเมล็ดพืชเชิงพาณิชย์ตาที่แหลมคมไม่ได้เป็นสาเหตุหลักของการสูญเสียพืชผล การติดเชื้อมีแนวโน้มที่จะรุนแรงและแพร่หลายมากขึ้นเมื่อเมล็ดพืชเติบโตในดินเดียวกันทุกปี หากคุณปลูกข้าวบาร์เลย์คุณสามารถหมุนเวียนตำแหน่งเพื่อป้องกันการสะสมของเชื้อราในดินที่อาจทำให้เกิดการระบาดของโรคที่รุนแรงขึ้น

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About the pest

The disease affects wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms occur as sharply defined lesions on the outer leaf sheaths. Young lesions have a sharply defined dark margin and frequently have shredding of the epidermis within the lesion. Multiple lesions up the stem can be found up to 30cm from the stem base. Later in the season, lesions on the stem have a pale cream centre with a dark brown, sharply defined edge. Sharp eyespot lesions are often superficial, but severe sharp eyespot is not uncommon and can cause white-heads or lodging.

Life cycle

The fungus over-winters primarily as mycelium on infected stubble with volunteers and some grass weeds also acting as sources of inoculum. The fungus can produce sclerotia which may act as overwintering structures. Infection may occur at any time during the growing season, but the disease is favoured by temperatures of around 9°C. Acid, dry and sandy soils and early sowing favour the disease. Cool autumn or spring temperatures may result in early infection by the fungus which can lead to severe disease.

Sharp eyespot is common in the UK although, nationally, it does not usually cause significant yield loss. However, individual crops may suffer significant losses, particularly if the disease is present with take-all. Severe sharp eyespot has been shown to reduce yield by up to 25% but this is very unusual. Annual losses in the UK on average are probably less than 0.5%.


Older plants, such as occurs with early seeding, are more susceptible to infection by the fungus than plants from later seeding. Delaying seeding reduces disease but may result in more severe soil erosion and also increases the probability of winter injury. Where eyespot is a problem, seeding should be early enough to be consistent with good cultural practices and take advantage of agronomic yield potential determined by local environmental conditions, and spring tillage should be avoided.

Crop rotation is not completely effective in controlling eyespot, but it can reduce the amount of colonized straw (inoculum) present in soil and therefore, it is of value where the disease is severe or in preventing inoculum build-up in fields where it is not damaging. Unfortunately, even a small amount of inoculum can multiply to a point where damage occurs. Because of this, winter barley is not an effective rotation crop with wheat. Although barley is less susceptible than wheat, these fungi can develop enough on barley to create a threat to subsequent winter wheat crops. Spring seeded grains, although susceptible, are not usually affected by eyespot in the PNW and are effective rotation crops, as are peas, lentils, chickpeas, and canola.

Fertilizer does not increase the amount of eyespot directly, but can increase plant growth and lead to higher humidity that favors disease development. Ground application of fertilizer in the spring with shanks should be avoided, but dry or liquid fertilizer applied by aircraft or spread from ground equipment does not favor disease development.

Burning wheat stubble is not effective in controlling eyespot, even though the fungus survives on straw in the soil, enough colonized straw is protected by the soil or otherwise escapes destruction to cause subsequent infection. Other residue management techniques including tillage also affect eyespot. In general, reducing tillage reduces the severity of eyespot this effect results from the later seeding dates that are typical of conservation tillage systems in the Pacific Northwest, and from interference with the splashing of spores due to the presence of standing residue or residue-covered soil surface.

Disease resistant varieties are the most economical and reliable control for eyespot. Madsen and Hyak were the first resistant varieties available in the PNW, but several winter wheat varieties with resistance are now available including AP700CL, ARS Selbu, Cara, Chukar, Coda, LCS-Azimut, Madsen, Masami, Otto, Norwest 553, ORCF-102, Puma, Rosalyn, Tubbs 06, WB 456, WB 523, and WB 528 consult the Washington State Crop Improvement website or the Washington State University Variety Testing Program for current variety descriptions.

Foliar fungicides may be applied in spring before stem elongation begins to reduce damage caused by eyespot. Before spraying, fields should be scouted to collect enough plants to give 50 stems. Wash the stems and separate them into healthy and diseased piles when the diseased stems are 5 out of 50, or 10%, that’s the point at which a spray will be justified because there’s probably another 10%, or 20% total, that are infected. Currently, there are four fungicides registered for eyespot control. Check with your local field consultant or extension specialist to decide which fungicide will work best for your situation.

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