The disease affects wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale.
The characteristic symptoms of the disease are the sharply defined lesions on the outer leaf sheaths. Young lesions have a sharply defined dark margin and frequently have shredding of the epidermis within the lesion. Multiple lesions up the stem are often found up to 30 cm from the stem base. Later in the season lesions on the stem have a pale cream centre with a dark brown, sharply defined edge. Sharp eyespot lesions are often superficial, but severe sharp eyespot is not uncommon and can cause whiteheads or lodging.
The fungus overwinters primarily as mycelium on infected stubble with volunteers and some grass weeds acting as sources of inoculum. The fungus can also produce sclerotia which may act as overwintering structures. Infection may occur at any time during the growing season, but the disease is favoured by temperatures of around 9OC. Acid, dry and sandy soils and early sowing favour the disease. Cool autumn or spring temperatures may result in early infection by the fungus which can lead to severe disease.
Sharp eyespot is common in the UK although, nationally, it does not usually cause significant yield loss. However, individual crops may suffer significant loss, particularly if the disease is present with take-all. Severe sharp eyespot has been shown to reduce yield by up to 25% but this is very unusual. Annual losses in the UK on average are probably less than 0.5%.
Rotation appears to have little effect on disease incidence. Late sowing may reduce disease as would ploughing infected stubble. There is evidence that winter wheat varieties differ in their resistance to sharp eyespot. However, the resistance is not particularly effective.