Rush said this study will allow them to look at the problem from a Great Plains’ perspective, instead of the state view previously used.

“We want to first understand the common areas, and once we understand the primary factors, we can develop a disease risk assessment model,” he said.

This grant will take advantage of existing facilities and personnel, such as those associated with theGreat Plains Diagnostic Network,which is already set up in all these states, Rush said. That group already coordinates diagnostics of diseases and trains first detectors.

“Being able to access those scientists’ expertise made it simple to pull together a strong team to work on this issue,” he said.

The team will replicate the same work from Texas to Montana, Rush said, planting and monitoring a common susceptible control wheat variety;varieties such as Ron L, Mace and TAM 112, each of  which offers a different type of resistance; and local cultivars from each state.

“We will record weather data, cultural practices and even hail storms,” Rush said. “Hail plays an important role on volunteer and wheat streak the following year. In our area and in Oklahoma, we will focus to a high degree on native pasture and Conservation Reserve Program grasses, because we think those are important to the vector and disease carryover.”

Scientists will do individual studies and then group studies so the entire project will provide a tremendous amount of information over the five years of the grant, Rush said.

Helping guide the study will be a program advisory board made up of growers, industry and commodity representatives from each state who will help identify the areas that affect them the most.

“With their help, we will be able to identify the most important aspects of wheat diseases caused by mite-vectored viruses and get something that is useful and valuable to the producers,” Rush said.