Nathan Kleczewski, Extension Specialist – Plant Pathology; email@example.com
We have seen black heads on barley and wheat throughout Delaware (Fig. 1). The black heads are due to sooty head molds, a group of opportunistic fungi including Cladosporium, Epicoccum, and Alternaria. The presence of sooty molds indicates that damage from some other factor has occurred (e.g. frost, scab, sharp eyespot, take-all, insect damage). Sooty molds increase in prevalence when wet weather delays grain harvest. There are no viable options for control at this point and specific control measures are rarely justified.
Figure 1. Wheat with black sooty mold.