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2016 Wheat Season Report

January 6, 2017
Agronomic image of a wheat field

The National Agriculture Statistics Services of the UDSA reported that U.S. growers produced the largest wheat crop since 2008/2009, with 2.31 billion bushels. This is a 13% increase from last year and 10% above the 5-year average yield. As winter and spring wheat harvest data continues to be finalized*, here is an overview of how growers described this past season in wheat fields across the Dakotas:

Product Performance vs. Herbicide Resistance

The biggest weed issue Dakota wheat growers saw was the increase of kochia in their fields. There are 2 sides to this weed control story – did growers try to save money upfront on their herbicide package (i.e. going from name brand herbicides to generic products/ALS-inhibitors), or did weeds develop a tolerance to the product? It could be either of these issues, but when it comes to herbicide resistance, remember to be proactive in order to maximize weed control. That includes knowing which product fits best and managing weed escapes.

Rust on the Rise

Stripe rust epidemics have been rare in the Dakotas, but we’ve seen increase in this disease since 2011. Stripe rust is not the type of disease that shows up and then goes away easily. In April, stripe rust was found in Miller, SD – only 100 miles away from the ND border, which made us rethink stripe rust’s overwintering patterns. To combat stripe rust, growers should purchase a fungicide package that contains triazoles, strobilurins or mixed modes of action. Then, when deciding to make a fungicide application, consider the growth stage, level of rust incidence in a field, and future weather conditions.

Insecticide Effectiveness

There were also reports of wheat streak mosaic virus in spring wheat. The unfortunate side of this is there are no chemicals currently on the market to manage the mite or virus directly. Because of this, it’s important that growers destroy all volunteer wheat plants and grassy weed hosts before planting a new wheat crop and that they plant at the recommended seeding dates.

We continue to receive many questions on wheat stem sawfly as well. Unfortunately, there is no good way to control this insect. Growers should be wary of wheat stem sawfly because it bores into the joints of wheat straws which weakens and causes breakage. The best way to combat this insect is to plant a certified seed variety with tolerance to sawfly.

Growers also saw wireworms in their fields. In the 2017 season, growers should continue to pay attention to this insect, as it is a multi-year pest. Having thiamethoxam in your seed treatment package helps suppress wireworm and other insect populations.

High Levels of Vomitoxin

ND recorded large levels of vomitoxin in durum and spring wheat in the northern part of the state. Some growers had fields that were completely burned to the ground. Growers who produced a wheat crop with vomitoxin saw a large price discount at local elevators, with some even being turned away.

High humidity and moisture can create the perfect condition for this toxin. Fusarium, a disease that produces vomitoxin, may have also been a key player in the high levels reported in the state. To protect against Fusarium and vomitoxin, growers should choose a certified variety with this protection and also use a seed treatment with fludioxonil to protect against soilborne and seedborne diseases. It’s also important to scout fields regularly to track the presence of Fusarium and other diseases.

As spring planting season approaches, it’s important to watch weather patterns and plan ahead to protect wheat fields from threats that diminish wheat quality and yield potential. Utilizing an integrated management approach helps boost crop productivity and grow profitable wheat.

Submitted by Nathan Popiel, Syngenta agronomic service representative in North Dakota.

*At the time when this article was writen, harvest data has not been finalized. Contct your local extension office or visit www.nass.usda.gov to obtain a offical report.

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