How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines

Small Grains

Leaf Rusts of Wheat and Barley, Crown Rust of Oats

Puccinia recondita (wheat)
Puccinia hordei (barley)
Puccinia coronata (oats)

(Reviewed 2/07, updated 2/07, pesticides updated 7/16)

In this Guideline:


Symptoms on the foliage are similar for wheat, barley, and oats, although the species of Puccinia are different for each host. Pustules on barley are small, round, and yellowish brown. Pustules on wheat are reddish orange and scattered or clustered on upper leaf surfaces. Pustules on oat are oblong and orange colored. The shape of the spore and its ornamentation are the reasons that oat leaf rust is termed crown rust. The lack of ragged edges on pustules of leaf rusts distinguishes them from stem rusts. As the plants mature, the pustules turn dark and shiny as teliospores are formed. These spores do not play a role in disease development or survival in California.


Leaf rusts are late season diseases that cause losses in years of lower than normal late spring temperatures and high humidity conditions. The leaf rust fungi grow only on living host plants and are specialized to narrow host ranges (wheat leaf rust does not affect barley; barley leaf rust does not affect wheat). Sources of primary inoculum (urediospores) for crops include volunteer cereal plants and, because urediospores can be dispersed over great distances by air currents, distant fields of the respective cereal crops (wheat, barley, and oat). Spores from pustules of initial infections are windblown to initiate secondary cycles (7- to 10-day intervals) when temperatures are 60° to 72°F (16° to 22°C) and moisture is not limiting. The spores infect the plant through stomata; a film of moisture is required for infection. The fungi then grow between host cells just under the plant epidermis. Tiny structures, called haustoria, penetrate host cells to obtain nutrients. Fungus tissue proliferates beneath the epidermis and as masses of spores are formed, the epidermis bursts and characteristic rust pustules appear. Infections increase water loss and decrease the amount of photosynthate available for grain filling, resulting in reductions in the number and weight of kernels.


Control is achieved through the use of resistant cultivars (see BARLEY, OAT, or WHEAT CULTIVAR TABLES). A statewide monitoring program exists for early detection of susceptible genotypes.

In the event that new races of the fungus render current sources of resistance obsolete, fungicides such as propiconazole (Tilt) can be applied at 4 oz per acre to control disease outbreaks. Applications should be made between tillering and heading to protect the flag leaf.

Common name Amount per acre** REI‡ PHI‡
(Example trade name)   (hours) (days)

Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
Bee precaution pesticide ratings
When choosing a pesticide, consider its usefulness in an IPM program by reviewing the pesticide's properties, efficacy, application timing, and information relating to resistance management, honey bees, and environmental impact. Not all registered pesticides are listed. Always read the label of the product being used.
  (Tilt) 4 fl oz 12 See label
  MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Demethylation inhibitor (3)
  COMMENTS: For use on wheat, barley, triticale, oats, and rye. For wheat, apply until Feekes growth stage 10.5 (full head emergence). For other grains, apply until Feekes 9 growth stage (emergence of flag leaf ligule).
** See label for dilution rates.
Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
1 Group numbers are assigned by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) according to different modes of actions. Fungicides with a different group number are suitable to alternate in a resistance management program. In California, make no more than one application of fungicides with mode-of-action group numbers 1, 4, 9, 11, or 17 before rotating to a fungicide with a different mode-of-action group number; for fungicides with other group numbers, make no more than two consecutive applications before rotating to fungicide with a different mode-of-action group number.



[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Small Grains
UC ANR Publication 3466


R. M. Davis, Plant Pathology, UC Davis
L. F. Jackson, Agronomy, UC Davis

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