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Oklahoma Wheat Growers Should be Alert for Initial Signs of Disease as Weather Begins to Warm Up

Oklahoma Wheat Growers Should be Alert for Initial Signs of Disease as Weather Begins to Warm Up
Here at the start of 2019, the year is shaping up a bit differently than most Oklahoma wheat farmers have seen the past few growing seasons. With extended periods of wet weather and ample ground moisture, wheat fields and pastures across the state have turned soggy and has effectively slowed the crop’s growth rate. These conditions have implications extending beyond the immediate challenges. According to Oklahoma State University Extension Plant Pathologist Dr. Bob Hunger, from early wet conditions is borne the potential and increased risk of foliar disease. As this year’s crop progresses into the warmer weather of springtime, Hunger says producers will need to start paying close attention to their fields in monitoring for any initial signs of disease. In a recent interview, he spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn about what to look for this season. You can listen to that complete interview by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“This is about the time of year when producers start wondering about what diseases they should be looking for. We have been real wet and there is a lot of moisture out there - but what it’s really going to depend more on is the weather from about the middle of February on,” Hunger explained. “With as wet as the ground is though, it wouldn’t be surprising to not maybe see a little more root rot… it just depends on when it was planted, what kind of conditions we’ll have through the spring and so on.”
Hunger did mention that in southern Texas, growers have submitted early reports of Leaf Rust. This is important to watch closely, he says, as rust inoculum can build quickly and given the right conditions can blow northward up into Oklahoma and further spread the disease. Depending on how severe the rust situation becomes, Hunger says it is very possible producers in Oklahoma will want to consider applying fungicide if they have planted a non-resistant variety.
“I think we’re supposed to continue to be fairly cool and wet, so, it looks like there may be a bit of moisture this year and that usually leads to more foliar disease,” Hunger said, pointing out a more immediate threat. “The first one they should be looking for is Powdery Mildew. That would be down low on the plant when the canopy in thick.”
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