With unseasonably warm weather in late winter and early spring, 2017’s winter wheat crop is ahead of its normal development and growth for this time of year. In some areas of Kentucky wheat is estimated to be as far as three weeks ahead of “normal” development while some areas of southern Ohio the flag leaf is developing.
The period of growth between flag leaf and head emergence is critical because early season diseases can significantly diminish yields. In a recent C.O.R.N Newsletter Article, Pierce Paul states: “It has been cool, wet, and very humid so far this spring — perfect conditions for early season diseases like Septoria tritici blotch and powdery mildew to develop. Both of these diseases usually become established in the fall, thus getting an early start in the spring, particularly if winter conditions are mild.” As wheat continues to develop, growers will need to watch fields for disease development and be ready to make fungicide applications, if necessary.
Scouting reports across the Eastern Corn Belt are mostly favorable, however, there is a potential for freeze damage in the southern areas of Seed Consultants’ sales footprint. As discussed in a previous E-Newsletter, University of Kentucky’s Carrie Knott wrote an article in February that reported possible freeze damage due to extremely low temperatures in Kentucky. It is still too early to know where freeze damage occurred and to what extent as the earlier varieties at test plot locations are just now beginning to head out.
As the growing season progresses, it will be critical for wheat growers to continue to scout fields for potential problems and asses possible yield loss due to freeze damage.