February 2017 will go down in the record books as one of the warmest Februaries on record, not just in South Dakota, but across the United States. Some Eastern parts of the state will end up more than ten degrees above average for the month. The Western region will end February around two to six degrees above average.
Adverse winter weather can result in damage and even death to winter wheat in South Dakota. Snow cover on fields can insulate the wheat and mitigate cold and fluctuating temperatures. Lack of snow cover on fields increases the incidence of winterkill. Ice from rain could also result in problems, as oxygen supply to dormant plants may be cut off due to water puddling and ice formation.
Winter wheat possesses an excellent physiological mechanism to survive the harshest of winter conditions. Overwintering or winter survival of winter wheat is a long process that starts in the late fall with decrease in daily temperatures, and is completed when it starts its regrowth the subsequent spring. Factors such as genetics, amount of snow cover or insulation, and winter temperatures can all play a significant role in the winter survival of wheat crop.
A few cases of stripe rust, powdery mildew and tan spot in winter wheat have been reported this fall. Producers are wondering if it is worthwhile to apply a fungicide to control these fungal diseases. In order to decide if a fungicide is needed, we need to know a few facts.
For most of us wheat is wheat; however there is a distinct difference between spring and winter wheat, even though the vegetative characteristics of these two wheat types are very similar. Winter wheat can withstand freezing temperatures for extended periods of time during the early vegetative stage and requires exposure to freezing or near freezing temperature to trigger reproductive stage. In other words, if winter wheat does not go through a period of cold temperatures, then it will not produce seed. Two things needed for winter wheat to perform at optimally and produce good yields are- cold acclimation and vernalization.
Crop performance testing results are released annually through the activities of SDSU Extension and the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station at SDSU.
Wheat producers in South Dakota always strive to grow a premium product. Quality in wheat often depends on test weight and protein content. It is possible for producers to manage winter wheat for protein content. Several factors affect protein content in wheat including genetics, timing, precipitation, temperature and heat during the growing season.
Wheat curl mite is one of the more difficult pests to manage in wheat. This is in part due to the limited options available for preventing populations from infesting a field and rapidly reproducing. Other pests can often be managed through the use of insecticides or miticides. However, due to the wheat curl mite’s small size and tendency to inhabit protected areas of the wheat plant, chemical management is often impractical.
We recently received a very interesting sample that originated from field of wheat stubble. At first glance we thought it may have been a cutworm species, however, there were many characteristics that were missing. There were also some traits present that did not match up with the description of any cutworm species. After some sleuthing, the mystery larva was determined to be that of a crane fly.
South Dakota winter wheat planting is currently underway, and with it comes the need to consider management practices that may reduce pest populations. Although we cannot predict aphid pressure in winter wheat, there are measures that may be taken to reduce the risk associated with these insects.