Impact of extension activities on the adoption of new wheat varieties
The rapid adoption of new varieties of wheat with disease resistance is critical to mitigating losses due to new diseases or disease races, even when only part of an integrated disease management program may include fungicides. There are numerous sources of information that can be used by farmers in North Dakota when selecting varieties with specific disease resistance as well as other traits. Formal surveys were conducted to determine the role of extension activities on the adoption of Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) control practices especially on the use of new varieties with FHB resistance. This disease became a regular and devastating problem of small grains in eastern North Dakotas in the 1990s. In a survey specific to North Dakota conducted in 2010, most respondents indicated that information from the extension service was their main source of information for FHB control with varietal selection their primary means of control. Extension publications, accessed through the internet or as hard copy obtained from an extension office or at an extension meeting were the most important sources; fewer respondents obtain their information from extension meetings and field days. A survey conducted in 2014 found that private sources (consultants and input suppliers) are becoming more important sources of information for FHB control and varietal selection, perhaps because the disease has become better understood and most new varieties have some level of FHB resistance. In durum wheat, where there are few varieties available from the private sector, extension publications were found to be the main source of information used for selecting new varieties. Data from these surveys show the importance of a strong and active extension program in ensuring that new varieties with resistance to new diseases/disease races are readily adopted.