|Duane A. Lienemann|
UNL Extention Educator
Wheat Harvest: It is here! I predicted early on that we would be harvesting in South Central Nebraska by the Fourth of July and I didn’t miss it too far. There have been some test runs and a couple of fields that are being cut as I write this. Unfortunately some of this early harvest is a result of stressed wheat from drought and some fields that should be a nice yellowish color has more of a brownish tint to it. Those are the same spots that had the “blue” look just before we got some rains, which once again have forsaken us. My guess is that we are going to see some fields that are going to be less than stellar in yield potential. The drought that started last year has really had an effect on this year’s wheat crop.
If you drive by some of these wheat fields you may want to notice something. Are the heads standing up straight or are they bent over. If they are standing erect at this stage of the game my guess is that you have either shriveled kernels or a low kernel count, or both. I don’t think I need to tell you that this is a good foreteller of your wheat yield and test weight. I expect to see wheat yields all over the place this year. I have seen some fields that won’t make much more than 10-15 bushels, and some that may make 30-40 bushels. My analysis is that our average dryland wheat will be somewhere in between those ranges. I expect to find a lot of shriveled kernels and some very light heads this year in these fields. That being said, I have also seen some fields that are still a couple of weeks away from harvest and could make 50-60 bushels. Why is that? I think it has a lot to do where those fields are located, what was planted there the year before and if and how much moisture that happened to fall on that piece of land. Unfortunately these fields are the exception rather than the rule!
You may also want to walk through your fields and check for head scab. I have not seen much, if any, but have heard of fields further east of us that are exhibiting theses diseased heads. I did notice some white heads a couple of weeks ago or more and I wonder if some people are mistaking these heads for head scab. I think what I have seen is more the result of damage to wheat early this spring with the surprise cold, ice and snow which did do some damage to many fields. Some of those white heads also are pulled easily which may suggest a stem maggot working in spots across some fields.
If you do suspect Fusarium head blight (scab) you can take some simple management strategies. The easiest thing to do is managing the potential at harvest. By increasing the fan speed on the harvest combine you can remove some of the heavily infected grain, which usually is lighter than healthy grain. Secondly if you think you might have the disease I suggest keeping potentially scabby grain separate from other wheat. Incidence and severity of scab varies from field to field and even within a field depending on the variety planted and local environmental conditions.
You should go one step further should you separate any wheat. It is best to keep scabby grain stored at or below 12% moisture content. This will reduce the potential for deterioration during storage. Cool the grain by aeration soon after placement in storage and continue cooling periodically. Storing grain at or below 12% moisture prevents grain deterioration that can result from fungal activity if moisture content were higher. Unfortunately it does not reduce the amount of DON in the grain should it exist. If you plan to keep back ben run seed for planting next fall I think it prudent to prevent or reduce seedling blights next year. Potentially scabby grain should be thoroughly cleaned and treated with a systemic fungicide before being used as seed for next season’s crop. It is probably best to simply get you seed wheat from a clean source. My guess is that most fields in our part of the country will not have much, if any head scab.
One thing is for certain, we will not have “tall straw” this year. When the wheat started heading at 6-8 inches and using a doubling height formula that still gives us pretty short wheat and thus short stubble after harvest. To compound this problem I have noticed a lot of fields that have differing heights of heads all in the same row. Some are located at mid height never getting that extra burst of growth while its neighbors may be half again higher. That means that we will have to lower the cutter bar to get all of the heads, making for even less height of residue. For those that are looking for wheat straw to bale, etc. you may be a little disappointed as I don’t foresee much straw behind the spreaders in those drought affected wheat fields. While we are not having the best couple of years for wheat, it still is a wonderful crop.
Pink Eye: I have been getting several reports of pink eye in mature cows, bulls and especially in calves. You may want to check your herds as it is the time of year that it can get out of control. We had early maturing brome grass in cool season grass pastures and an influx of weeds which I think have irritated cattle eyes, which in turn attracts face flies whose populations are starting to expand and in turn spreads the causative agent of pinkeye, Moraxella bovis. Ouch!
The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website at: http://www.webster.unl.edu/home