Can Foliar Diseases in Forage Grasses Cause Economic Losses for Livestock Producers?

Most garden enthusiasts are familiar with fungal diseases in fruit and vegetable crops. These diseases can induce a range of experiences from mild gardener irritation to complete crop loss.  Late blight in tomatoes, powdery mildew in squash, leaf spot, phytophthora, and pythium, just to name a few.  The most frustrating diseases are those that spoil the quality of the product just before it is ready to harvest!  Spores for most plant pathogens can be found almost everywhere those plants grow!  Given the right conditions, they can devastate a crop.  While some species and varieties of plants have varying degrees of resistance to certain pathogens, no plant is entirely immune. Fungal infection of fruit and vegetables can render a crop completely unmarketable, a fact that looms large in the minds of producers.  In field crops and forages, however, fungal pathogens often do not prevent harvest or marketing, but often compromise yield and quality in ways that are not immediately evident.  Until recently I had the impression that foliar disease on forages was not a ranking concern among livestock farmers or hay producers.  This is why I was very surprised when I recently heard a farmer state that mid-summer grass diseases (foliar) are the most significant agronomic problem on his farm! S

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