Loose smut

Loose smut 


  • Loose smut of wheat is caused by the fungus Ustilago tritici

  •  In Victoria, this disease is rarely seen because the regular use of seed treatments controls this disease.


  • Infected ears emerge earlierhave a darker colour, and are slightly taller than the ears of healthy plants

  • The florets of infected ears are full of a mass of black spores

  • Once the spores are released, the head is reduced to a bare stalk 


  • Grain Trade Australia's commodity standards allow a maximum of 3 pieces of loose smut infected ear per half litre for all grades.


Using systemic seed treatments every year will effectively control this disease. Following a loose smut outbreak in a crop new clean seed should be sourced.

Links and Resources

DAFWA - Farmnote 456. Loose smut

Page contains information on cereal seed dressing and in-furrow fungicides used for looose smut, disease diagnosis, cautions, and further contacts. Page last updated 2011.

DEPI VIC - Loose smut of wheat

The section on loose smut of wheat contains information on symptoms, likelihood of infection, life cycle, recieval standards, and control. Published 2007, updated 2013.

Victorian Winter Crop Summary 2014 - Loose smut

Table 6: Wheat disease guide. Page 11. Causal organism, symptoms, occurrence, inoculum source, and control. Updated annually.