Short Wheat Does Not Necessarily Mean Reduced Straw Yield

As most wheat across Wisconsin has headed, county agents as well as crop scouts alike are commenting on the overall “shortness” of the 2009 winter wheat crop. It has been well documented that plant height alone is a poor predictor of straw yield. However, Morrison et al. (2007) found a strong relationship among plant height, grain yield, and straw yield in high yielding wheat varieties in Northern Illinois (Predicting Wheat Straw Yields in Northern Illinois). A more critical factor for Wisconsin growers in 2009 would be their planting date. Donalson et al. (2001) found that planting date proved to be a strong driver in increasing straw yield (earlier planting date increased straw yield). In Wisconsin many acres of wheat were planted later than normal due to delayed corn and soybean harvest. Wisconsin growers also experienced significant winter-kill that thinned wheat stands. Though these thin wheat fields did compensate somewhat through increased tillering, straw yields may be reduced.

Edwin Donaldson, William F. Schillinger and Stephen M. Dofing. 2001. S traw Production and Grain Yield Relationships in Winter Wheat. Crop Science. 41:100-106

Weather: 2-8 June 2009



Arlington:

Chilton:


Janesville:

Lancaster:

Note: Discrepancies in rainfall and/or temperature data for June 8 are in part due to differences when data were downloaded.


Pay Attention to Wheat Growth Stages

The winter wheat is rapidly advancing around the state, based both on our observations in the field as well as from reports around the state.  It is very important that you closely examine the growth stage if considering the application of a foliar fungicide.  For example, when we examined the winter wheat variety trial at Lancaster today, wheat ranged from Feekes 10.4 (heads approximately 3/4 emerged) to Feekes 10.5.1 (anthesis) (Figure 1).  Many fungicides that are used for control of foliar diseases, including Headline, Quilt, Quadris, and Stratego, for example, are only labeled until Feekes 10.5 (full head emergence).  Applications made after this growth stage are considered off-label.  

Figure 1. Wheat head showing evidence of flowering. This image was obtained on 3 June at the Lancaster ARS Winter Wheat Variety Trial. Image courtesy of Karen Lackermann.
Furthermore, pay particular attention to the severity of the different wheat diseases and on which leaf symptoms are observed.  As we have recently discussed in the blog and the Wisconsin Crop Manager, the decision to consider a foliar fungicide at this point in the growing season for diseases like powdery mildew, septoria leaf blotch, and wheat leaf rust should be focused on the upper leaves. Also, make sure that you properly identify diseases, as we have seen some virus symptoms like Barley Yellow Dward Virus in plots (Figure 2). Foliar fungicides are not effective against viruses.
Figure 2. Symptom of Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus. Image couresty of Karen Lackermann.
Fusarium head blight update:
As we move into flowering, remember that this is the critical period for infection by the pathogen that caused Fusarium head blight.  From the initial phase of flowering to the end of flowering takes approximately seven days.  Based on recent weather conditions and the Fusarium head blight prediction center, the current risk for Fusarium head blight (as of June 3) is low across the state in Wisconsin.  
We have also received some questions as to the current situation around the U.S.  Our situation in Wisconsin is much better than other parts of the country, as the severity of Fusarium head blight further south, starting in southern Illinois and running into Arkansas and Kentucky, in particular, is high and there are concerns regarding the risk of high DON contamination.  

Cool Temperatures Causing Crooked and Broken Wheat Heads

Temperatures at our winter wheat variety testing sites (Janesville, Arlington, Lancaster, and Chilton) ranged from the mid 30’s to the high 40’s in the early morning hours of June 1st. Though these temperatures are generally not low enough to cause yield loss we are hearing initial reports of wheat heads being caught in the boot or in the extreme being tangled in the flag leaf (Images 1 and 2). This symptomology is most prone in awnletted wheat varieties (varieties with very short awns), but can also occur to awned wheat. If wheat heads are merely bent then yield loss is unlikely however if wheat heads are completely snapped off then yield loss has occured and growers should contact their crop insurance agent.

Image 1. Awnletted wheat head caught in auricles.


Image 2. Wheat head wrapped in flag leaf.

If entire fields are showing uniform injury or patterns appear check spray records and timings to ensure that head damage is environmetnal and not herbicidal as growth regulator herbicides such as dicamba and 2,4-D can cause epinasty (twisting) and head malformation.

Weather – 26 May to 1 June 2009


Arlington:


Chilton:

Janesville:

Lancaster:

Flag Emergence and Foliar Fungicides for Wheat

In the past week, wheat development has moved into flag leaf emergence (Feekes 8-9, Zadoks 37-39) and in parts of the state past flag leaf and into the boot growth stage (Feekes 10, Zadoks 40).  This is a critical period for making assessments for the need for foliar fungicides.  Over the past few years, while we have seen yield responses of 7-10 bushels per acre with a well-timed foliar fungicide application during this period, we have typically seen this response for a susceptible wheat variety.  In particular, this response has been due to control of powdery mildew (Figure 1).  
Current Observations Across the State and in the Winter Wheat Variety Trials:
Note: special thanks to Karen Lackermann for this information and update.
We have started to receive some reports of powdery mildew on wheat, primarily in the northeastern part of the state and on susceptible varieties.  We have also noted this disease at the Lancaster and Chilton variety trial locations. Overall, the level of powdery mildew (both incidence and severity) has been low and not necessarily on the most critical leaves like flag leaf, flag-1 leaf, or flag-2.  The dry weather the past week or so seems to have limited disease development at this point in the growing season.
In observations for other diseases that can be controlled by foliar fungicides, we have noted the following at the winter wheat variety trials locations: septoria leaf blotch (Figure 2), wheat leaf rust (Figure 3), and wheat stripe rust (Figure 4).  Overall, the severity of these diseases has been rather low (1-2%).  In stems where the disease severity has been higher, the symptoms have been  observed mostly in the lower canopy.  Across the locations, we have noted wheat leaf rust at all four variety trial sites, however, the highest frequency of these observations have been from Janesville.  We have seen septoria leaf blotch at all of our trial locations except the Chilton.  
Figure 1. Powdery mildew of wheat.
Figure 2. Septoria leaf blotch of wheat.
Figure 3. Wheat leaf rust.
Figure 4. Wheat stripe rust.
As a reminder, in the March 26, 2009, Wisconsin Crop Manager article entitled, “Do I Need to Spray a Foliar Fungicide in Wheat in 2009?”, we provide information regarding thresholds for powdery mildew, septoria leaf blotch, and wheat leaf rust.  Current thresholds are also provided here to help guide decisions specific to Feekes 8 and post-Feekes 8 until Feekes 10.51 (flowering; Zadoks 60):
Powdery mildew, Feekes 8: check from the flag-2 leaf upward; the threshold is 5 pustules per leaf on the flag-2 leaf, on average.

Septoria leaf blocth, Feekes 8: check from the flag-2 leaf upward; the threshold is 25% of leaves with blotches.

Wheat leaf rust, Feekes 8: check from the flag-3 leaf upward; the threshold is 1 pustule per leaf, on average.

If wheat is already beyond Feekes 8, the recommendations up through Feekes 10.51 (flowering; Zadoks 60) are:

Powdery mildew, Feekes 8 until Feekes 10.51: check from the flag-1 leaf upward; the threshold is 5 pustules per leaf on the flag-2 leaf, on average.

Septoria leaf blocth, > Feekes 8 until Feekes 10.51: check from the flag-2 leaf upward; the threshold is 25% of leaves with blotches.

Wheat leaf rust, > Feekes 8 until Feekes 10.51: check from the flag-2 leaf upward; the threshold is 1 pustule per leaf, on average.


Making the decisions to spray a foliar fungicide during this time requires knowledge of the wheat variety, active scouting of multiple locations in a field, proper identification of diseases, and an accurate assessment of the most critical leaves.  For further information, this information is also discussed in a recent video available at the UW-Extension YouTube website:

Weather – May 18-25, 2009



Arlington:

Chilton:

Janesville:

Lancaster:

Weather 10-17 May 2009


Arlington:

Chilton:

Janesville:

Lancaster:
Add Image

Early Season Wheat Disease Assessments

Updated: 15 May

We have begun our early season wheat disease assessments at the winter wheat variety trials in Wisconsin. Our approach for disease assessments follows the recommendations we made in the March 26, 2009 Wisconsin Crop Manager article, entitled, “Do I Need to Spray a Foliar Fungicide in Wheat in 2009?” These assessments are also a part of the thesis research for Karen Lackermann, Plant Pathology, to improve the decision management system for controlling wheat diseases in Wisconsin.

At Janesville and Lancaster, wheat growth and development currently ranges from Feekes 4-5 (pseudostem erection; Zadoks 30) to Feekes 6 (1st detectable node; Zadoks 31). In our assessments at those two locations, we have found symptoms of the Septoria leaf blotch complex, leaf rust, and stripe rust. The level of disease is relatively low and specifically, we have only noted symptoms in the lower canopy and nothing on the newest emerged leaf. At this range of growth stages, we do not recommend the use of foliar fungicides for Septoria or the rust diseases. Scouting over the next two weeks, however, will help to determine if these diseases are increasing in the canopy. Furthermore, the use of the thresholds we outlined in our Wisconsin Crop Manager article can help determine the need for a foliar fungicide as we move into flag leaf emergence.    


We have also completed our first assessments at the Chilton variety trial location.  Wheat was at Feekes 4-5.  Similar to the other locations, we observed Septoria leaf blotch, leaf rust, and stripe rust.  Of all the samples we have assessed, only 1 had symptoms of leaf rust on the newest leaf. Our recommendation is similar to Janesville and Lancaster at the moment. 

We will continue our assessments for the rest of the growing season including Feekes 7 (2nd detectable node; Zadoks 32), Feekes 8-9 (flag leaf emergence; Zadoks 37-38), and Feekes 10.51-11.1 (flowering to soft dough; Zadoks 60-75) at all of the variety trial locations and will continue to update you all on how wheat diseases are progressing around the state.   

Weather, 3-9 May 2009

Arlington:


Chilton:


Janesville:


Lancaster: