2014 Wheat Tour – North Central Kansas

Hi I’m Jim Shroyer, Extension Wheat Specialist at Kansas State University and I’m Erick DeWolf, Extension Plant Pathologist for Kansas State University. We’ve been traveling the state for a month and a half now, looking at wheat around the state and we have seen some really bad looking wheat in the south west, southern part of the state. And as we moved north we were hoping that the wheat was going to look a little bit better, we were hoping that some of the rain that came in Mother’s Day, from that time frame on would’ve improved the wheat crop or given it some potential. But then also around Mother’s Day we had, about the 15th, we had some really bone chilling temperatures up in this area, right when it was headed and starting to flower. (Erick) I think that’s right. A lot of the growers have been reporting that there’s a lot of heads turning white and just general sterility of some of the heads that is going to likely translate into some pretty poor yields or questionable performance of some of the fields. (Jim) I noticed and we’ve noticed just today, that from the road and this is a perfect example what we’re standing in here, from the road, the wheat looks pretty good and the faster you go, the wheat looks fairly good, but once you stop and start walking out into the wheat, it starts to look a little tough and short. We’re seeing the freeze damage and what we’re seeing with freeze damage is parts of the head, the top part primarily is either right out of the boot stage or the temperatures were just right at that particular time, we’re seeing the top of the head dead, due to the freeze. And also in fields that we’ve been in the last few days and today in particular, it looks like we’ve got grain in the head but once you grab that head and you feel it, uh oh, there’s not as many kernels in there as supposed to be. (Erick) That’s right, so I think another feature that we’re seeing too is this north central part of the state has now had some rain in the last week or so and we’re starting to see some of those heads that normally would be white because of the freeze injury that are starting to pick up some sooty molds as well. (Jim) Those are saprophytic fungi that come in after the head is dead, is that what you’re saying? (Erick) That’s right. So they’re saprophytic or a decay organisms that are just a normal type of plant debris and in this case because of that premature death of the heads, they’re just moving in early before the rest of the crop has matured. (Jim) Also, it’s a planting date type of thing. Seems like to me if the wheat was planted early, well I should say more at a normal time, it probably was more apt to get dinged by the 15th of May, there was a couple, three days there right around the 15th of May right when it was heading or starting to flower as opposed to something that was maybe double crop planted after beans or corn that was a little bit late and the wheat was not quite as far along. So you can just see field-to-field, or even within the same field wheat was planted on time and maybe later. And one of them later is maybe doing a little bit better in regards to the freeze damage. (Erick) Is there anything maybe affecting that as well as the planting date we talked about here a moment, but what about varieties? What would you expect there? (Jim) Well again, an earlier variety like, we’re standing in a field of Cedar, that’s an early variety and if it was planted early, because it’s an early variety and when we had that freeze in mid-May that variety and then some others, you know Everest is another fairly early variety that could have some damage. And also the drought stress. Fields that are drought stressed, what we’ve seen all across the state this year is fields that are drought stressed are showing just a little more freeze injury than others.

(Jim) Hi, I’m Jim Shroyer, Extension Wheat Specialist at Kansas State University. (Erick) And I’m Erick DeWolf, Extension Plant Pathologist at Kansas State University. (Jim) And today we’ve been touring Clay County, Cloud County, Washington, Republic and we’ve looked at a lot of wheat fields today. And one thing that we saw this morning one of the best fields we’ve seen in couple, three weeks now and one of the best ones we’ve seen in north central today was down in Clay County at the County Extension Wheat Variety Demonstration Plot. That when we pulled up there, I thought, “Oh my goodness, where are we?” This wheat looks actually pretty good, we’re looking at maybe 50 bushel wheat, 40-50 bushel wheat. And the funny thing is that it is wheat after wheat and it has had 10 inches of rain on it since Mother’s Day. And it looked good. And we were standing in water this morning. (Erick) Yeah, I never would have dreamed any place in Kansas we would have been standing in water today. (Jim) But one thing with the yield potential and that rain, that 10 inches of rain since Mother’s Day, that’s about a month now, we both saw it, so what did we see there? (Erick) Well, there were some leaf diseases that were coming on in that particular location. It was a wheat on wheat type of production field… (Jim) No till. (Erick) No till, wheat on wheat type of production field, so second year in wheat and they were having some problems with tan spots. Tan spot is a disease that will often have as the name describes, tan or brown lesions where the fungus is coming off the residue, becomes established on the lower leaves and then this time of year moves up to the upper leaves. (Jim) OK, now wait a minute… I know, but how does that move up to the upper leaves? (Erick) Well, in this case the fungus is producing spores that are produced on those lesions, that we said became established on the lower leaves, and then they’re either splashed by rain or in the case of tan spot, it’s very capable of moving by wind as well. So it has a dual type of mechanism for its disposal. (Jim) So, do you think the tan spot at that location that we saw this morning down in Clay County, do you that is going to cause any test weight or yield loss? (Erick) Well, that’s a good question. A lot of the growers that were at the tour were asking that type of question. And typically when we see tan spot developing late in the season we’re not usually so concerned about outright yield loss, as much as we are loss of test weight. So some of the varieties were showing a high degree of susceptibility and they may lose some of their test weight because of that. (Jim) I think there is some potential there on some of those varieties, the very susceptible ones that the leaves were gone basically and I think we may lose a little bit, a bushel or two there, plus a few pounds on test weight as well. (Erick) Yeah, I think you’re right. A lot of it has to do with how long the disease has been there, so obviously if it’s up behind the flag leaf, upper leaves, it’s been there a while. This isn’t the first time that the disease has been a problem for these plants. And it’s been working away on some of those more susceptible varieties. And I think you’re right, we may see some yield loss in those particular varieties. (Jim) Well OK, one of the… is it just my perception here, but I think when tan spot affects the wheat in the fall, late fall, that’s when we really see yield loses unless protected somehow. (Erick) I think so. So tan spot can come become…come off those residues. We can get a generation of tan spot that becomes established in the fall. Or it can also become established early in the spring and whether it’s in the fall or spring, that early establishment… the earlier the disease gets started, the more generations it will have there and the more potential damage it can do to the leaves. (Jim) So I’ve got a variety that is fairly susceptible, and I’ve planted no till wheat on wheat, what can I do to… now that I’ve already made the decision to plant this variety and it’s up and growing and here we are in the spring time of the year, what can I do protect it? (Erick) We could use foliar fungicides to protect that varieties that we know have tan spot susceptibility, particularly first planting them back into a high residue type of situation. We could use early fungicides that would be trying to protect the plants from that early generation of spores that we said would be coming off the residue usually around April, March or April time frame. And then we want to come back later to protect that flag leaf if we still see disease continuing to develop there. (Jim) So you’re saying… so are you a proponent of this top dress, the time you dress and putting on a fungicide at that time? (Erick) Well, I’m not a strong proponent of that. I mentioned that as one particular strategy. But I think in many cases that second application the flag leaf, or boot time heading application does the heavy lifting with that particular dual application and you’re going to get 90 to 95 percent of the benefit out of that second application as you would out of the dual application. (Jim) Right, right. I agree. So, what do you think as far as, a trick question here, any particular fungicide better than other? (Erick) Well, there are a lot of products that are available to you. There’s a lot of tools that are in the tool box. We usually don’t talk about one being better than the other. It’s probably the decision to apply the fungicide that’s the most important thing. So, taking time to know what your variety susceptibility is, scouting your variety to know what the disease is and then taking the action to apply to see the disease pressure developing. It’s probably the most important decision you’ll make.

(Jim) Hi, I’m Jim Shroyer, Extension Wheat Specialist at Kansas State University. (Erick) And I’m Erick DeWolf, Extension Plant Pathologist for Kansas State University. We’re here in north central Kansas and we’ve been touring the wheat and one thing that I’ve noticed is based on planting date and variety there are some differences that we’re seeing this year. (Erick) We are. I think one of the things that a lot of growers have been asking of or seeing in their fields is just some really poor or thin stands. And I guess, do you have any insights into what you think might be going on with that? (Jim) Well, I think the big thing is the number one thing is rain, or the lack thereof. Last fall we were planting in some really dry conditions in north central and most of the state as far as that goes and we just didn’t have fairly…we didn’t have good establishment, the wheat is thin and didn’t tiller and we’ve had some really cold temperatures. Right after wheat was planted right off the bat, middle to early November we had some really cold temperatures. December we had some cold temperatures. Then in January bone chilling temperatures, where the temperatures got so darn low, you know three below, five below, ten below in that ballpark in this area of the state. So those, I think, those kinds of things kind of set it up for the wheat, just didn’t really get established well. Kind of got shocked and again, of course the drought stress that I mentioned earlier is the big thing I think. (Erick) Yeah, so do you think those really cold winter temperatures maybe combined with the dry conditions maybe predisposed us to some winter injury or winter kill those contributing, but just loss of stand as well? (Jim) Well that’s a good point. I think the dry soil and in some cases the soil was quite fluffy that we saw down in the central part of the state. It was very, very fluffy and that cold just penetrated quite well unfortunately. And we had damage that way, thin stands, again the drought has kept the wheat short and the short wheat is even shorter than it normally is. The other thing too, the producers this morning in the recent past have observed, is on planting depth. I think planting depth really has taken bushels away in terms of the yield losses because of winter damage and just thin stands associated with planting too shallow. (Erick) So what are some of the key things that you maybe see growers struggling with as you’ve looked at a lot of fields over the years? What do you think the key thing is on planting depth or what would people be looking for? (Jim) Well, I think one of the big things is, is making sure the drill has those sharp coulters so they can penetrate the residue and tilled ground, making sure planting depth… you’re not planting too deeply. But it seems like to me in some of the ground that’s planted shallow it’s been because of high residue situations. Planting in the morning time when that residue, the coulters won’t cut the residue and penetrate the soil. As opposed in the same field in the afternoon it’s able to penetrate the residue and being able to place it at a good depth. So, planting depth and this particular year, wheat that was planted early in a certain window, seems like to me, survived a little bit better. That last of September maybe that first week of October and wheat that doubled cropped, planted after row crops, that wheat is thin, it never tillered and that’s when those cold temperatures in November… just think about it, we planted the 15th, 20th of October after soybeans and the particular and then immediately the cold temperatures hit us so I think it just kind of shocked it.

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