Dr. Bob Hunger Offers Tips to Keep Your Wheat Healthy in 2018 and What Diseases to Look Out ForTue, 08 Aug 2017 12:14:25 CDT
Extension Plant Pathologist at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Bob Hunger, presented this past week at the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Convention in El Reno, reviewing some of the disease pressures growers experienced this year in Oklahoma. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn about his observations from this year. You can listen to their entire conversation, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“This past year, there was a number of things we expected and some we didn’t expect,” Hunger recounted. “Leaf rust was definitely the primary and predominant foliar wheat disease. There was a little stripe rust early, a little powdery mildew - but leaf rust is the one that came the hardest on the foliar disease side of it.”
Additionally, Hunger says there were some cases of Barley Yellow Dwarf discovered around the state, which he found surprising given the lack of aphids reported throughout the fall and through early spring.
“But then, the biggest impact of disease, was Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus, which is transmitted by the Wheat Curl mite,” he said. “It was fairly widespread and quite severe across a lot of Northwestern Oklahoma and the Panhandle.”
Typically, Wheat Streak Mosaic is thought to be more of a western part of the state disease. But, this year, Hunger says it was found much further east into Central Oklahoma than it has been seen before. Hunger says any number of things could have caused it to spread so far, but thinks it was most likely a combination of environmental conditions and volunteer wheat harboring the mites, left uncontrolled. He points out that this is a good reminder to always break the ‘green bridge.’
“It’s important to be a good neighbor,” he remarked. “Breaking that green bridge, that volunteer wheat and grassy weeds that harbor those mites and the virus. Killing those for a period of at least two weeks before commercial wheat emerges is key to limiting losses from Wheat Streak Mosaic.”
When it comes to foliar diseases, though, Dr. Hunger recommends producers strongly consider investing in a fungicide application. He says by doing so, you can increase your yields up to 20 percent. He advises growers to scout their fields often for signs of insect pests or foliar disease symptoms, to know early on if fungicide or pesticide applications might be needed. Also, consider a later planting date, near mid to late October, to give pests and disease less time and opportunity to infect your crop. Finally, Hunger says that variety selection is the first line of defense to controlling disease. Know what is prevalent in your area, and choose the genetic traits that will reduce your risk of disease the most.
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