Category Archives: Crop Updates
Damage to heads from frost/freeze is beginning to appear as white awns/florets in wheat heads. Thankfully this damage is very minor in area wheat fields right now.
Barley yellow dwarf is also appearing in fields and is noticeable by flag leaves with a yellow/purple color. This is a disease vectored by various aphid species. The aphid in this photo is a corn leaf aphid and I’m seeing these in wheat as well right now in addition to lady beetles which are feeding on them. We also observed aphids last fall and were concerned about them potentially vectoring this disease. I would say this is my least favorite wheat disease because you can do many things correct with wheat just to have this one show up and affect yield.
Also seeing some loose smut in fields which again is fairly minor. Both loose smut and stinking smut (common bunt) can be prevented by using a seed treatment fungicide at planting. Often these diseases occur in fields where wheat has been planted and smut has occurred before and when using bin-run wheat that has not been treated with a seed treatment fungicide. Also notice all the yellow ‘flecks’ on these leaves which are indicative of fungal infection (most likely rust) on these leaves.
May 23: Corn is looking good for the most part with few major concerns yet. Some have commented on the yellow-looking corn. This is most likely due to cool, wet soils rather than any nutrient issues. There may be field-specific issues such as saturated soils, compaction, and some herbicides that can cause this yellowing too. Also had a call on cutworms in seed corn but not widespread calls on this yet. Extension Educators have set up light traps for tracking cutworm moths and you can find that information here: http://go.unl.edu/rhhe. Cutworms will cause the most damage the first 7 days after corn emergence so scouting is important. The York County Corn Grower Plot was planted on April 24th with the corn currently at 2 leaf stage. Special thanks to Ron, Ray, and Brad Makovicka for hosting and the work put into this plot each year!
May 1: It never ceases to amaze me how quickly planting occurs each year! Corn planted the week of April 10th has emerged and for those fields that received hail from last week’s storms, I’m hoping we don’t see disease issues later on. Also of note, some have asked me about the CropWatch soil temperatures as they are higher than what some of you have been measuring in your fields before planting. The CropWatch soil temps at http://cropwatch.unl.edu/cropwatchsoiltemperature are averages of 24 hours under bare soil which may be different than the residue conditions in your fields and is an average of the entire day vs. one point in time. This may help explain some of the differences.
Many stands of alfalfa are lush green with over a foot of growth at this point. I looked at some alfalfa in Clay County that got dinged by cold temperatures in areas of the field and stopped growing. At this time I’m also finding quite a few aphids and a few alfalfa weevils. A disease common this time of year called spring black stem can be observed in nearly all alfalfa fields right now in the lower canopies. This disease consists of small black lesions on the leaves which eventually cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop. Normally this disappears with later cuttings as humidity and rainfall are typically high during the first cutting and can be managed with cutting the alfalfa. One option to consider according to Dr. Bruce Anderson, our Extension Forage Specialist, is to consider cutting alfalfa before bloom. He shares that weather can cause long delays and alfalfa doesn’t bloom very aggressively during spring. Bruce felt there were advantages to cutting alfalfa when it is 15-20” tall before bloom during first cutting including: weather compared to later spring, spread out alfalfa harvest if you consider cutting one field earlier, reduction in insect and disease problems by early harvest, and high feed value. It also potentially allows the second cutting to be ready before the summer heat which can lower forage quality. Disadvantages include lower yield from cutting early which could be made up in later harvest, regrowth may be slower if cut early, and the need to allow for longer recovery after first or second cutting to maintain long-term stands. So, harvesting before bloom may be something you wish to test in one of your fields this year and consider how this works for you, especially if you did have some frost damage or are having insect/disease issues in your alfalfa right now.
According to research, wheat is susceptible from flowering through soft dough development stage. “Typical” fungicides used for control of fungal leaf diseases are off-label thus illegal to apply once the wheat has flowered and they do not have activity on the Fusarium fungus causing scab of wheat. Management for scab includes the use of the preventive fungicides Caramba or Prosaro. Both are labeled for headed and flowering wheat. There’s a 30 day pre-harvest restriction for both. Rainfast varies from ¼ hour to 2 hours or when dry depending on environmental conditions. Both fungicides can help prevent scab and control rust on the plant.
Research from the US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (which is a combined effort of several Universities in the U.S. and Canada) has found that the best prevention using these products occurs when wheat is headed and 30% of the plants are in the beginning flower stage. Application within five days of these criteria still showed positive results. This research also showed that application before or after this time period greatly reduced effectiveness of preventing scab. Understandably, the economics of fungicide application are difficult in wheat, yet, if you are aiming to make one application, this could be your best option for both scab prevention and controlling rust in your plants. The risk map for scab can be found at: http://www.wheatscab.psu.edu/. With wheat at heading to beginning flower and rain/humidity this risk in reality could be higher for us.