First, let’s take a quick look at the area’s drought status. Please remember, this is only through August 6 and doesn’t include rain after that. Believe it or not none of the area moved totally out of drought status, however, only the SE quarter is rated as severe drought. No part of Barton is any longer in the extreme category. The rest of the county, except, the NE corner is rated as moderate drought. The NE corner is now simply considered abnormally dry. With the added rains since the 6th and the relatively moderate temperatures, further easing of drought status is likely. While the rains last weekend were heavy and certainly created some problems, they were exactly what were needed to significantly improve drought conditions.
We are constantly being presented with ads and opportunities to volunteer. Most all organizations, public and private, need volunteers to function. For producers there is one volunteer they can do without – wheat. Drive around the county and this year’s wheat fields are thick with wheat, volunteer wheat. Needless to say, it’s been a while since this much volunteer wheat sprouted, especially this early. While modern combines are extremely efficient, some wheat goes out the back of the combine instead of the bin. If a field had a 40 bushel/acre yield and 98% of the grain went into the grain bin that would still leave 48 pounds of wheat/acre. And remember, combines are set to minimize the shriveled grain entering the bin. However, shriveled grain can still germinate. While it may not seem like a big deal, there are important reasons to eliminate this wheat at least two weeks prior to planting and within several miles of field being planted to wheat.
Volunteer wheat problems:
* Serves as a habitat for Hessian fly, Russian wheat aphid, wheat curl mite, bird cherry oat aphid, greenbugs. Some such as Hessian fly can directly affect yields.
* The above insects can serve as a vector to infect wheat with diseases such as barley yellow dwarf harbored in the volunteer wheat, wheat streak mosaic virus, and other related diseases
* Possible fall infections of leaf and stem rust
* While it may not seem as important this year, volunteer wheat uses valuable moisture
The early emergence of volunteer wheat is actually a help for producers compared to its emergence just prior to or at planting. Control can be chemical or mechanical but as more producers move toward conservation no-tillage chemical control is the predominant method. The key is to have the area within at least one-half mile of the field free of volunteer wheat two weeks prior to planting.
On the plus side, the area is over six weeks from planting wheat, unless it is for pasture, so there is plenty of time for control.