Commercial Wild Rice Production in Minnesota Depends on Fungicides

Wild rice originated in Minnesota and the surrounding Great Lakes. It is the only cereal native to North America that has been domesticated from a wild plant. Before commercial production began, wild rice was difficult to obtain. The first commercial field of wild rice was planted in 1950 in Minnesota. After one season, fungal brown spot disease destroyed the second crop. In the next decade, fungal brown spot destroyed much of Minnesota’s wild rice crops – epidemics in 1973 and 1974 resulted in complete crop loss in many paddies. Ever since 1974 Minnesota growers have sprayed fungicides in order to produce commercial wild rice.

“Propiconazole, a systemic ergosterol biosynthesis-inhibiting fungicide, was evaluated for FBS control during 1985-1987 at the University of Minnesota North Central Experiment Station in Grand Rapids. In 1985 and 1986, propiconazole applications at both boot and heading stages of development increased yield by 68 and 40%, respectively, and in 1987 applications increased yield 113%.”

“Registration of propiconozale is crucial, because commercial wild rice production in Minnesota without fungicides may not be economically feasible.”

Author: D.R. Johnson and J.A. Percich
Affiliation: University of Minnesota, St. Paul
Title: Wild rice domestication, fungal brown spot disease, and the future of commercial production in Minnesota.
Publication: Plant Disease. 1992. December:1193-1198.

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