Perhaps the only perk of the dry weather around Southwestern Kansas is the limited wheat disease issues we have seen thus far. With the recent moisture (3 to 6 inches around the area) and hopefully more rain on the way over the next few weeks, our chief concern has shifted from praying for rain to protecting all that we have invested in our wheat crop.
Farmers in the area are going to do a lot of scouting in their wheat fields in the next few weeks and the number one thing they will be looking for is Stripe Rust. Stripe Rust is certainly not the only disease we deal with, and it is probably not even the most destructive. (I’m looking at you, Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus.) What sets Stripe Rust apart is the amount of damage it can do in a very short amount of time. Fortunately there are a couple good tools at our disposal to deal with the problem.
The first tool is planting good genetics. This year we are growing two new AgriPro varieties, SY Monument and SY Sunrise, both of which have very good disease packages, including proven resistance to Stripe Rust. But wait! Just because SY Monument and SY Sunrise are great at fighting off Stripe Rust now, doesn’t mean they will be forever, or even next year. Stripe Rust can--and will--and has--and will again--undergo a “race change” and then it’s like we have a brand new disease to deal with all over again.
Tool number two is timely fungicide applications. Syngenta has a nice line of fungicides that we use which really allows us to tailor our applications to the variety and conditions field to field. Single mode of action products like Quadris and Tilt are a great choice this year, where the primary goal will be disease prevention. Quilt Xcel is the gold standard, both for quick for knockdown of diseases and good residual protection through grain fill. We are also excited to try new Trivapro, which adds a brand new mode of action to maximize protection for our seed production.
We know that Stripe Rust is already present in Texas, Oklahoma, and other parts of Kansas, so we are going to be on the lookout for outbreaks in our area. We will also looking for other diseases like Stem Rust, Leaf Rust and Powdery Mildew. Our strategy with fungicides is to keep the flag leaf healthy. In years with early disease outbreaks, we will try to spray when the flag leaf is about half-emerged. This year, with fields in our area staying remarkably clean, we will delay our applications until the wheat begins to head out in order to maximize our protection from any late season disease outbreaks. I spray fungicide on my Certified Seed fields every year because I find that it helps to improve test weight and reduce the amount of cleanout I have to do to produce high quality seed. I tell my customers that in years when Stripe Rust is present early, they are better off spraying all of their fields because even a resistant variety will see some yield drag due to the disease. At the very least it is imperative that vulnerable wheat varieties get protected in years when Stripe Rust is present or nearby. I have seen yields reduced by more than 60% by untreated Stripe Rust. It can do a lot of damage in a very short amount of time!
[This post was originally published on the Syngenta Voices 4 Wheat page.]