April 12, 2011

Kentucky’s 2011 wheat crop is on track as mid-April approaches. According to the Kentucky Weekly Crop and Weather Report , 54 percent of the crop was considered in good condition and 27 percent in excellent condition.

This is good news for wheat producers. A dry October resulted in late emergence of wheat, and a colder-than-normal early March slowed the growth of some wheat. Warmer temperatures later in the month allowed the wheat to catch up.

“We’re cautiously optimistic now, but everyone knows we have a way to go,” said Chad Lee, extension grain crops specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture . “There’s not really anything to be concerned about now from a development standpoint, but producers should continue to scout their crops for any sign of diseases.”

A good crop will be very important for producers. Wheat prices are expected to stay high due to crop condition concerns in major wheat producing states, such as Kansas and Oklahoma, which are abnormally dry or in a drought. As of April 11, wheat prices were $7.98 for May, $8.32 for July and $8.66 for September.

Another crop hurdle may come at the end of April and the beginning of May. This is when the plants will be near or in the flowering stage and the most susceptible to Fusarium head blight, also known as head scab. Fusarium head blight is a fungal disease that can cause lower yields and test weights. Of greater concern is the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol, known as DON, which the fungus that causes Fusarium head blight also produces.

Fusarium head blight struck many Kentucky fields in 2009. Warm, wet conditions favor Fusarium head blight development. Producers can receive advance notice of potential outbreaks or risks of head scab in their area, by signing up for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative’s Fusarium head blight Alert System at http://scabusa.org/fhb_alert.php .  

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