Owen Taylor, Editor
Here is this week's AgFax Southern Grain.
Insect activity remains a focus in wheat. True armyworms are being treated on a wider basis in the Midsouth. Applications for cereal leaf beetles also were being made in portions of the Southeast. Rice stink bugs are turning up in noticeable numbers in north Louisiana wheat, although this may be an edge effect in many cases. See comments from Sebe Brown.
Vernalization issues continue in the lower Southeast. In scattered cases, growers might be better off burning down late-planted fields and shifting to full season crops, according to Dewey Lee, Georgia Extension Grain Specialist (see his comments below).
A scab alert was issued late this week for selected counties in North Carolina. See comments from Randy Weisz.
Dewey Lee, Georgia Extension Grain Specialist: “We continue to have complications due to poor vernalization in wheat after this mild winter. In a small percentage of fields, growers would be better off getting out of a doublecrop plan. Yield potential simply doesn't justify keeping the wheat. They should just treat the wheat as a cover crop, burn it down and then plant full-season cotton or peanuts. That way, they can take advantage of nutrients they’ve already applied. That will help recover some costs already put into wheat, plus they gain extra yield potential with full-season cotton or peanuts.
“Probably 20% of the crop has been affected to varying degrees by inadequate vernalization, based on the percentage of our wheat planted after December 1. Wheat planted after that date simply didn’t receive enough chilling hours to match wheat planted on time. So, that part of the crop will exert its heads over the next 3 to 4 weeks, which for us is a late-heading field. As you get into a warmer May environment with warmer nights, the grain fill duration shortens and the percentage of grains that fill in the head will decline, so you’ve got lower yields, overall, plus lower test weight.
“Wheat is obviously well into heading and grain development where it hasn’t had vernalization issues, and this weather is promoting high yield potential in those fields. We’ve had a pattern of bright, sunny days with occasional rainfall, plus moderate temperatures at night, and all that is positive. Some disease pressure is still evident, such as powdery mildew. I’ve found occasional spots of rust. But growers started early with fungicides for powdery mildew, and we’re just continuing to watch the crop. We’re still finding occasional worm outbreaks in the wheat.
“Corn is moving along at a remarkable pace, advancing through growth stages faster than normal. So, correct timing of inputs is even more critical, since plants could grow past application points if the grower isn’t careful. In a normal year you lose some yield potential if you delay making key inputs on corn. In a year like this with rapid growth, missing an application windows means you’re even further behind.”
Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Entomologist: “I’ve been seeing more instances of true armyworms infesting wheat in north Louisiana. These include wheat plots at St. Joe and Winnsboro at various stages of growth. Our threshold is 5 worms per square foot with foliage loss occurring. If armyworms reach the flag leaf and the wheat has not headed, an application should be made.
"I have also encountered varying levels of stink bugs, primarily rice stink bugs, in wheat. Populations have to be high for damage to occur, and our threshold is 10% infested wheat heads in the milk stage and 25% infested heads in the soft dough stage. Stink bug numbers will usually be higher around field edges, with numbers falling off as you walk further toward the middle. This means you may reach threshold around edges but be well below threshold 100 feet in. Applications of pyrethroids can control both of these pests.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “At least some treatments went out this week for cereal leaf beetle (CLB) in wheat. We had reports last week about Hessian fly in Pamlico County, but that turned out to be isolated to that county. Water borders it on three sides, with a lot of swampy terrain, so it kind of operates with its own microclimate. We were catching adults in pheromone traps in places but not finding them in fields.
“Where most of our wheat is grown out east, CLB pressure was low – if anything, even lower than last year, which was a low year, relatively speaking. Some rust and powdery mildew are around, so fungicides are going out, and I’m hearing about insecticides included for CLB. Also, some people are making ground applications for lower-than-threshold levels. They see the beetle and some injury, so they’re treating. We do, in fact, have some fields in the coastal plains where they’re exceeding threshold. According to one report from Johnson County, they’re also worse there than they have been in years. But even with that, it’s running maybe 30% to 35% compared to a 25% threshold. I did find a true armyworm last week, just a little larvae.”
Wade Thomason, Virginia Extension Grain Specialist: “Everything is headed out or cracking the boot, and almost all the wheat in the state will be headed in the next week or so. We’ve got too many fields that probably didn’t get nitrogen this last time. Guys made a first application, then things went way too fast, and people scrambled around, trying to figure out what to do. Where it’s really deficient, some are cutting UAN with water to try to reduce the salt burn. Mostly, they’re going 50/50. Some are shifting to CoRoN or related products to use a different N source other than salt.
“We’ve gotten reports about cereal leaf beetles in small grain. But at this point, it looks like adults and eggs in most fields, at least in this part of the state. The situation may be further advanced in our southern counties, but I haven't had any reports from there about them. The reports mainly came from people who found them, thought they needed to treat and asked about including a fungicide.
“We’ve got some corn up. For much of the state, March 31 is the first allowable corn planting date for crop insurance, but I suspect that some people jumped in a little ahead of that, based on several fields I’ve seen. I’m in the Shenandoah Valley right now (4/5), and people are ready to plant. Most of the corn ground has been burned down.
“A whole bunch of cutworms are moving around where we will plant corn, more than we normally see, but I don’t know if that will be a problem. Usually if you do a good enough job with burndown ahead of time, they’ll leave the field and go somewhere else. If that’s not the case, you definitely need to put out an insecticide ahead of planting.”
Erick Larson, Mississippi Extension Grain Specialist: “Armyworms are being treated in wheat, although I’m not sure how bad they are, in general. One retailer who works across a large area told me that a lot of his company’s customers were making applications this week.
“Wheat sustained some hail damage this week with the storms, particularly Wednesday night. I don’t know how widespread this is, but some damage occurred in the Hollandale area. I also got several calls about hail damage in corn. If corn just sustains leaf damage, it shouldn’t significantly affect plants or yields. If the growing point was still in the ground and protected, then plants can generally do okay. If the growing point was hit, that’s a different situation. On the other hand, it’s still early in April, so we have time to replant, if necessary.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: "True armyworms were reported on April 2 feeding on rye near the Wiregrass Research Station near the Headland airport in Henry County. This insect had previously been reported from the Coastal Bend of Texas to south Georgia and as far north as Kentucky. The larvae feed mostly at night and may not be found in daylight hours until digging into the soil surface debris.
“These caterpillars can cause extensive damage below the crop canopy before they are detected. Controls are suggested when 4 to 5 larvae per square foot are found and feeding is heavy on the lower leaves. It’s important to protect the flag leaf. Most all insecticides labeled for small grains will provide adequate control. They are not as hard to kill as fall armyworms in cotton. However, good coverage is important, especially when making applications by air.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist: “We've had sporadic reports of true armyworm feeding in wheat this past week. The question is: ‘Are they really causing any damage?’ The armyworm population is very early this year, and we continue to receive reports of armyworms in wheat that ranges from boot stage to head emerging or beginning to flower. Everybody is asking about sampling or how to find out how many armyworms they have. We’ve posted more information that provides management approaches.”
Don Hershman, Extension Plant Pathologist, Univeristy of Kentucky: “Wheat is in the very early flowering stages to flag leaf extension, depending on location. Most wheat in west Kentucky is still in the process of heading but will likely begin to flower early next week. We are 2 to 3 weeks ahead of where we normally are for this time of year. The fusarium head blight (FHB) risk is very low except for a very small pocket of moderate risk in extreme southwest Kentucky. Generally, we have been warm and dry, but there have been some isolated showers in some areas in recent days. Overall, the hot, dry weather has greatly limited foliar disease development in most fields up to this point.”
Randy Weisz, North Carolina Extension Wheat Specialist: “Scab risk is high (as of 4/5) for Tyrrell, Hyde, Carteret, Onslow, Pender, New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus and Union Counties. If growers have wheat that is heading today or that headed in the last 7 days, they should consider applying a special fungicide for head scab as soon as possible. This is especially important for varieties that are highly susceptible. Possible fungicides include Prosaro, Proline and Caramba. Folicur is also an option but will not give as high a level of control. Do not apply strobilurin fungicides as they can make grain DON levels worse if head scab infects the wheat.”
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