Take all disease of wheat

Hi all,

I had a number farmers reporting diseased wheat in fields at harvest time. Specifically, darker colored wheat plants and empty wheat heads. These symptoms may be mistakenly identified as loose smut, seed borne disease – which is controlled during wheat seed certification process, and with fungicide seed treatments. If this is your common management practice, probability of having loose smut is 99.99%! I would not neglect possibility of this disease in your field if you planted bin-run seed that was not treated.

This is more likely TAKE ALL disease that was pretty common this year due to wet spring. If you try to dig the pant out, it would have damaged or no roots and lover stem will be dark in color (see 3rd picture below). It showed on both certified and bin-run seed in our plots at Stumpf Wheat Center near road ditch that had standing water for 2 days in spring. Plots were planted behind fallow with wheat stubble in it.

Disease is residue-borne more likely to be present in wheat-fallow rotations, and wet areas of the field (low drainage, compaction, heavy-textured soils). Wheat dies prematurely, so it appears white during grain fill period (instead of being green) and back at harvest (instead of being yellow/gold). Pathogen also survives on downy brome and other grassy weeds that may be in in ditches. Disease has potential to wipe out the whole field.

For management do rotate your wheat with corn, sorghum, peas, etc., give residue time to break down, and control grassy weeds!

Glad to see a lot of good wheat around! Not so glad to see discounts at the elevator! Learn to live by faith or die!



Hail storm – Perkins Co, Nebraska

Hail storm hit areas of Perkins County, NE (Venango and west). Damaged houses, windows, vehicles, crops… Photo courtesy goes to: Chandra Grothman Davidson, Nancy Reynolds, and Preston L Case.

Crop Report May 3-17




Weather conditions

In past two weeks, SW Nebraska received about 1 inch of precipitation, average air temperatures raged between 45 F and 65 F generating 123 GDD (growing degree days), soil temperatures had a gradual increase from 50 F and currently are at 58-62 F.

Corn planting and emergence progress

Picture 1. Emerged corn looks yellow in SW Nebraska
Emerged corn looks yellow due to lack of sunshine and cool temperatures

Most of the farmers are finishing up corn planting. There is about 20% corn acres yet to be planted and roughly 20% already emerged. Early planted corn emerged well despite the low soil temperatures. Strips that were tilled for corn to be planted consistently had higher reading then data from the weather stations, thus no injury occurred in most places. Corn plants, however, do look pale and yellow in color due to lack of sunshine and temperatures, but will grow out of it with warmer weather to come (Picture 1). To asses corn replant options due to poor emergence click here.


Wheat is generally in good conditions and is pushing flag leaf. There are reports of isolated stripe rust infections in SW Nebraska and preventive areal fungicide applications started this week (Picture 2). Applications prior to flag leaf emergence are not advised. If farmer has a stripe rust resistant variety, regular scouting and prolonging fungicide application by 10 days or so may provide long enough residual activity of fungicide to protect the flag leaf and avoid second fungicide application later on in the season.

Wheat is showing signs of nitrogen deficiency. Yellowing of the leaves is common in low areas of the fields with standing water and poor drainage conditions. In addition, sporadic yellow spots may be found throughout the field due to nitrogen that has been leached bellow the root zone (Picture 3).

Picture 3a. Nitrogen deficiency in wheat
Picture 3. Nitrogen deficiency in wheat

Picture 3b. Nitrogen defficient wheat leaves

Field peas

Field peas are relatively new crop in western Nebraska with promising agronomic potential and growing national and international markets. UNL Extension partnered with 5 farmers to receive USDA SARE (Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education) grant and investigate agronomic issues related to field pes production in SW Nebraska. Weed control is one of those issues and it will be interesting to see how well field peas compete against kochia (Picture 3). Field peas are at 3-5 leaf stages. For more information on field peas click here.

Picture 4. Field peas at V3 competting with kochia
Picture 4. Kochia infested field peas field

Early green up increases potential of freezing injury in winter wheat


Good residue and sufficient soil moisture help reduce risk of freezing injury in winter wheat


Winter wheat is currently in pretty good condition mostly due to good moisture at planting and favorable temperatures for plants to winter harden (vernalize) before cold temperature set last fall. Yet, many farmers have been concerned about higher then normal temperatures during February and wondering how this might affect winter kill in wheat.

Wheat does loose winter hardiness every time warm temperatures break its dormancy, and so it is important to become familiar with wheat sensitivity to cold temperatures at different growth stages.

During tillering stage, growing point of wheat is near the soil surface and well protected from frizzing injury. Plants might show damage in form of leaf twisting and discoloration, or even loosing tillers, but plant will be able to come back from the secondary tillers and produce good yield.

This years’ sufficient soil moisture helps reducing potential freezing injuries on crown and roots that might come from temperature fluctuations, as moist soil warms up and cools down about six times slower then dry soils.

In the jointing stage, when wheat starts to move the head up the stem, growing point is above the soil surface and more susceptible to injuries that might come from freezing or hail injury. According to K-state research, wheat will still be able to tolerate temperatures in the mid to upper 20’s without causing significant yield losses.

Farmers in this region frequently tell me: “Wheat dies 9 times before you get any grain out of it.” Therefore, fallow these wise words and if you suspect winterkill try not to make any quick decisions. Wait for several days of warm temperatures, give plants an opportunity to recover, and conduct careful assessment crop condition and its yield potential before you decide to tear out a field.

Educational oportunities in SW Nebraska

PicMonkey Collage - Jan 28

Below is a snapshot of 4 Educational opportunities in SW Nebraska. For more information contact Strahinja Stepanovic, email: sstepanovic2@unl.edu, phone: 402-318-1124

1. WC Cattleman’s Day

Joint Program of NE Extension and CSU Extension developed for cow/calf producers. This conference should help you find ways to reduce cost while helping to improve your overall profitability. Speakers and Topics:

  1. Robert Tigner, NE Extension Educator – Managing Replacements to Maximize Heifer Values. Can You Afford to Re-build your Herd?
  2. Randy Sander, NE Extension Educator – Increasing Reproductive Efficiency of the Cow Herd
  3. Chris Shelly, CSU Livestock Agent – From Mineral Supplementation to Cattle Transportation
  4. Troy Waltz, NE Extension Educator – Grazing System Management and Using Annual Forages
  5. Strahinja Stepanovic, NE Extension Educator – Forage kochia

Registration: $20 at the door, $15 if preregistered by Jan 28

Refreshments: supper included


Time Location Address
3-Feb 5:00-8:00 pm MT Cross Roads Wesleyan Church

1710 Wesley Drive, Imperial, NE

2. On-farm Research Update

Find out results of 16 on-farm research studies conducted in SW Nebraska addressing issues such as growing field peas, fertility management in high ph soil, soybean row spacing, and testing growth enhancement products. Learn about projects from other parts of the state on topic such as: variable rate seeding, planting populations, Maize-N nitrogen rate decision tool for sidedress nitrogen, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, row spacing, cover crops, foliar micronutrients, seed treatments, and others.

Registration: not required.

Refreshments: lunch included


Time Location Address
8-Feb 12:00-4:30 pm CT West Central Research and Extension Center (WCREC)

402 W State Farm Rd, North Platte, NE

3. Irrigation scheduling tools and maximizing irrigation performance

Learn essentials on maximizing irrigation performance and utilizing various tools for irrigation scheduling such as evapotranspiration (ET) gauge and soil moisture sensors. You will also receive an update on our Extension programs that address water issues and have the opportunity to participate in them (we will give you ET gauges to try them out) so we can together contribute to the wellbeing of our community. Speakers:

  1. Strahinja Stepanovic, NE Extension Educator
  2. Chuck Burr, NE Extension Educator
  3. Dr. Daran Rudnik – UNL Irrigation Specialist

Registration: not required

Refreshments: provided


Time Location Address


9:00-11:00 am MT Stumpf Wheat Center 76025 Road 329, Grant, NE
1:30-3:30 pm MT Chase County Extension Office

135 W 5th street, Imperial, NE

5:00-7:00 pm MT Dundy County Courtroom

112 W 7th Ave, Benkelman, NE

4. Weeds, Insect and Disease Resistance Workshop

Unique opportunity to learn from University specialists and local crop consultants from our region about the importance of herbicide, insecticide and fungicide resistance management, mode of action, and how to use this information to reduce spread of weeds, insects and plant pathogens in Nebraska. Speakers and topics:

  1. Stevan Knezevic, UNL Weeds Specialist
  2. Julie Peterson, UNL Entomology Specialist
  3. Anthony Adasemoye, UNL Pathology Specialist

Registration: required, online: http://agronomy.unl.edu/pest-resistance

Refreshments: lunch provided

Date Time Location Address
10-Mar 10:00-3:00 pm MT Stumpf Wheat Center 76025 Road 329, Grant, NE



Crop and Water report 08-25 to 08-31

It has been three weeks since we had our last rain in SW Nebraska and we are seeing all dryland crops showing signs of drought. Reference evapotranspiration (ET) in the Upper Republican NRD ranged from 1.6 inches in Perkins Co to 2.9 inches in SW Dundy Co. This means that crops in SW Dundy Co used about 1.5 inches of water more than in Perkins Co. See image for more details on ET and rain data as well as crop growth stages and their water use coefficients for this period.

ET and rain data 08-25 to 08-31

According to US Drought monitor none of the Counties in SW Nebraska are in abnormal drought, which can means that these conditions are (believe it or not) normal in SW Nebraska this time of the year. According to 30-year weather data, average August precipitation and ET are 2.50 and 9 inches, respectively. This means that the area had the August weather conditions in very close proximity to long term average.

We had very good growing conditions in May, June, July and August, so crops used all that water and heat to produce large biomass and increase yield potential. Rain is much needed to keep up with high water demands during the grain filling period in September, otherwise we will have to be satisfied with the mediocre dryland yields at the end of the year.