Wheat and More…or lessThe spray planes have been going day and night for weeks. But
during that same time, I’ve put over a thousand miles on my pickup checking our
fields for leaf and stripe rust—which I still can’t find. Am I missing the
We’re all born with a powerful herd instinct. Venture out on your
own and you’ll probably get eaten alive by some large wild animal. But what the
heck. It’s my money. And I guess I’ve been around too many Cargill people who
keep reminding me that the way to make money is to take costs out of systems.
K-State ag economists restate the same concept by saying the surest way to
profit heaven is to be the low cost producer. I like
So a day or so ago I checked with Erick DeWolf, K-State Extension
plant pathologist. I explained our situation here in Lane and Scott counties. A
lot of this wheat is under moderate to severe drought stress with some leaves
tightly curled. We have found a very small amount of rust on bottom leaves, but
nothing on the flag leaf or flag leaf minus one. We have also noted some
flecking on that second leaf. So I asked Erick what should we
Actually the “spray now” strategy may prove the best choice. Early
application results in lower yield loss. “But you can also spray too early,”
adds KSU Extension wheat specialist Jim Shroyer. And the problem with that is
you may get to spray twice.
On the other hand, our dry
weather may be the real threat. Drought, not rust. With the dry weather, our stands are actually
getting more open so it’s drier and less humid down in the canopy. I’d rate our
yield potential anywhere from 30 to 50 bushels an acre depending on rain.
And as far as the flecking, Erick says in cases that is an early
indication of infection. However, it can
also be due to other things like huge ranges in temperature, for instance. So in
our case, he’s not too concerned about it.
Erick says you need to consider several things before committing to
the expense. One of those is whether there is leaf and stripe rust around.
Because there is leaf and stripe rust in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, we do have
a moderate risk. Secondly we need to look at our fields, especially the flag
leaf and flag leaf minus one. If we find from 2 to 5% of the flag leaf showing
rust, he’d spray.
He’d also be a lot more concerned if you have varieties like TAM
111 which is now ultra susceptible to stripe rust and has always been weak on
leaf rust. Other high priority fields to look out for are those on irrigated
land or where you have highest yield potential.
As I described our situation, Erick says he’d not get in a hurry to
do anything, but would certainly be checking fields frequently. And if we see
the 2 to 5% rust infection, then pull the trigger. These rust infections are not
to be taken lightly. Yield losses can run from 20 to 50%.
Erick also likes the idea of using low cost, highly effective
fungicides like Folicur or its generics. At the labeled 4 ounce rate, cost for the material
can run from $1.50/acre up to $4 depending on supplier. So it pays to shop around. Also
with Folicur, you can apply it as late as flowering.
So at the end of the day, we continue to spend a lot of time
checking fields. And at the present time, that’s a lot more fun than spending