Bunt (wheat)

Tilletia tritici, Tilletia laevis

Bunt is common throughout wheat growing areas of the world. It is difficult to detect in a crop because infected plants appear similar to healthy ones. Plants may be slightly shorter, and the heads are usually darker green than normal and remain green for a longer period. Bunt infections result in the complete replacement of the seed contents with a mass of smut spores. When crushed, the infected grain releases a fine black-brown powder with an odour like rotten fish. Bunt is potentially the most devastating smut disease.

Life cycle

Bunt spores are carried on the outside of the seed and can remain viable for up to three years. When infected seed begins to germinate, the spores also germinate and penetrate the shoot of the seedling just before emergence.

The fungus then grows in between the plant cells just behind the growing point of the plant. Plants become resistant to bunt infection after emergence and therefore, if an uninfected plant has emerged, it cannot become infected. The fungus enters the tissues of the head, once formed, and black spore masses are produced in the head instead of normal grain.

Bunt infection is spread during harvest and other seed handling operations, when bunt balls (infected grains) are mechanically broken and spread amongst healthy grain.


  • Bunt is effectively controlled by most seed treatment fungicides (Foliarflo-C, Quantum Pro, Vitaflo C, Vitavax 200FF, Rancona C, Rancona Dimension)
  • Do not sow seed visibly infested with bunt (covered smut)
  • Only sow disease free seed

Recommended products


Foliarflo-C® provides foliar disease protection in barley and also controls a wide range of diseases in other crops. Great colour, great coverage and ultimately greater protection.

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Hannaford Boost

A seed grading and treatment package available through your local Seed Protection Specialist:

  1. Optimise Plant Establishment
  2. Promote Healthy Seedling Growth
  3. Protect Against Yield Robbing Diseases
  4. Specialist Seed Processing

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Rancona C

Rancona® C delivers protection against smuts and bunt in wheat, barley and oats whilst providing control of stored grain insects, in an easy to use micro-emulsion formulation.

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Rancona Dimension

Rancona® Dimension brings a new dimension in cereal seed treatments. The registration now includes suppression of crown rot in wheat and barley, as well as suppression of rhizoctonia and control of pythium, smuts and bunt.

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Vitaflo C

Vitaflo C protects against smuts and bunt, increases yield potential and improves emergence with stronger, healthier seedlings.

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Vitavax 200FF

The world's leading seed treatment, providing effective control of common seed and seedling diseases in wheat, barley, oats and triticale.

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