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Animal & Plant Health Protection
Plant Health

Karnal Bunt Situation Update

On June 21, 2001, USDA expanded its Karnal bunt quarantine to include the four Texas counties of Archer, Baylor, Throckmorton, and Young - all of which are within the southernmost boundary of the Wheat Belt. The quarantine now covers La Paz, Maricopa, Pinal, and Yuma counties in Arizona; Imperial and Riverside counties in California; Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Luna, and Sierra counties in New Mexico; and, Archer, Baylor, El Paso, Hudspeth, McCulloch, San Saba, Throckmorton, and Young counties in Texas. On July 2, 2001, Nebraska amended its state Karnal bunt quarantine.

What is Karnal bunt?
Karnal bunt is caused by the fungus Tilletia indica that affects crop yields and quality. The disease originated in India in 1931 and arrived in the United States in 1996, when it was found in Arizona and California. The following year it was found in Texas. Flour made from bunted kernels may be discolored and have an unpleasant odor and taste but is not a human health risk. The most detrimental effect of the disease is on international and domestic markets. Many countries will not import wheat from areas that have tested positive for the disease and some domestic flour mills will not accept it.

What is the state of Nebraska doing to protect its wheat growers?
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has surveyed for Karnal bunt since 1993, and NDA responded with a state quarantine when the disease was first detected in the United States in 1996. NDA staff have participated in numerous conference calls with the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Emergency Programs staff to track and halt the spread of Karnal bunt.

What is USDA doing to protect wheat growers?
USDA expanded its quarantine to include Archer, Baylor, Throckmorton and Young counties in Texas to prevent the spread of Karnal bunt. The federal quarantine covers the movement of regulated items, and equipment and storage facility cleaning. Regulated articles included in the quarantine are: wheat, durum wheat, and triticale grain; plants, seed, and straw; soil; elevators and grain storage buildings; equipment including trucks and railroad cars used to move wheat; and farm implements and equipment used to plant, harvest, and process wheat. USDA-APHIS has quarantined infested bins of wheat and straw. They are tracking wheat from infested fields where Karnal bunt was first detected, and from adjacent fields to determine the extent of the infection.

What can you do to protect the Nebraska wheat industry?
USDA requires that harvest equipment be cleaned before it leaves a quarantined area. However, the USDA quarantine was issued after most of the harvest in Archer, Baylor, Throckmorton, and Young counties was complete. Some custom harvesters who worked the area may not know about the quarantine. A producer can help stem the spread of Karnal bunt by asking where the custom harvester has been and if the equipment has been properly cleaned. Custom harvesters are expected to enter Nebraska with equipment that has been properly cleaned.

Karnal Bunt sampling occurred in July 2013. A total of 80, four-pound wheat samples were pulled in 36 counties, based on the 2013 National Karnal Bunt Survey Protocol. All samples were sent to the National Karnal Bunt Lab in Phoenix, Arizona, for analysis. All samples tested negative for Karnal Bunt.

link icon Karnal Bunt Quarantine
link icon Karnal Bunt Equipment Cleaning Protocol
link icon APHIS - USDA Emergency Programs

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