Virtual Wheat Field Days

Posted May 29, 2020

K-State Research and Extension hosted Virtual Wheat Field Days on May 27-28.

These events were held live on YouTube, and allowed participants to learn about the latest developments in the Kansas wheat crop conditions, diseases, variety selection, and agronomic research

The virtual field days were held in lieu of in-person local plot tours.

The first evening focused on how to choose varieties and a look at 2020 wheat diseases. Speakers were Romulo Lollato, Extension Wheat Specialist; Erick DeWolf, Plant Pathologist; Lucas Haag, Northwest Area Agronomist; and Kelsey Andersen, Wheat Disease Specialist.

Lollato began with an update on the current wheat crop and what he has seen around the state so far. The combination of drought conditions and an April 13 freeze event have really hurt the wheat crop this year. However, with recent moisture over the past couple weeks, the potential of the crop could still result in decent yields.

He then discussed traits to look for when choosing a wheat variety to plant. Some of these traits include regional adaptability, maturity, disease resistance and production system. He also suggested that farmers should take a look at how a potential variety performed in local trials.

Dewolf gave an update on the diseases that the 2020 wheat crop is facing. Most importantly, stripe rust is emerging as a potential threat to our Kansas wheat crop. Stripe rust does appear to be on the move. Farmers should be aware of what’s going on and see which varieties are holding up to the stripe rust.

Stripe rust is overcoming some of the genetic resistance in certain varieties. He also talked about Septoria Leaf Blotch, Leaf Rust and Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus, stating that it looks like it’s going to be a lower than average year for wheat streak mosaic.

Dewolf recommends selecting varieties to reduce disease risk. Not only should farmers try to pick varieties that are going to have a good yield record and other agronomic expectations, but also look for overall disease package. Priorities should be based on historical disease risk and special considerations for cropping system, such as crop rotations and fungicide use.

He says things to be watching for are continued adaptation of stripe rust to SY Monument, Larry, Zenda and others, possible emergence of leaf rust late in the season and risk of Fusarium head blight (head scab).

Haag stated that when choosing a variety for western Kansas, the first question to ask is whether you are willing to spray a fungicide. If you are, there are more varieties to choose from. He also recommends balancing proven variety performance with rapid introduction of new varieties, and says to look at a diversified portfolio approach, stating that planting three to five varieties is a good goal to reduce risk.

The second evening featured updates from the KSU wheat breeders. Allan Fritz discussed the Manhattan breeding program which focuses on Central Kansas. Guorong Zhang talked about varieties in the Hays breeding program for Western Kansas. Stu Duncan, of the Northeast Area Extension office, gave tips for selecting varieties in Central Kansas. Finally, Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat’s VP of Research and Operations, talked about research projects that are funded by Kansas wheat farmers through the Kansas Wheat Commission’s two-penny wheat assessment.

To watch the recordings from these events and learn more about K-State wheat varieties coming down the pipeline, visit YouTube at the links below.