Ergot is a fungal disease that is present in the County.

What are the Risks?

Ergot contains a toxin that is deadly to humans and animals, even in low doses. Although normally found in small amounts and scattered in fields across the area, Ergot can occasionally be found in great numbers, usually in barley. High moisture levels promote the growth of the fungus.

What to Look For

Symptoms of ergot show up as the kernels form.  Infected kernels are dark purple to black in colour and appear larger, deformed and elongated when compared to normal seed. Ergot infected kernels are obvious in the field as well as in uncleaned seed.

                 Ergot in barley                    Ergot in wheat

                         Ergot in barley                                          Ergot in wheat

                  Ergot in oats                   Ergot in rye

                       Ergot in oats                                               Ergot in rye


Ergot contamination can lead to major yield loss and catastrophic damage to animals fed a ration containing the disease. There are precautions you can take to reduce or eliminate the effects of this disease:

  • Practice crop rotation, only planting cereals every second year;
  • Use only clean, ergot free, certified seed;
  • Apply registered seed treatment;
  • Plant resistant varieties when possible; and
  • Do not feed livestock any grain containing Ergot.

Related Links

From Field to feed: Understanding Ergot

Canadian Grain Commission Ergot

Alberta Barley - Ergot