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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Wheat

           All totaled, our area wheat could be much worse off considering the environment and drought we have been forced to grow it in.  I see no major pest issues in the Hale & Swisher fields I have been able to check these past few weeks.  The largest concern has been potential damage from the April freeze event and detection of wheat virus in fields producers are pushing for grain yields.  In our most recent newsletter, I estimated that the majority of wheat fields I had checked had only about 5% damage in the lower portions of the fields.  Now that the heads are emerging, this estimate looks fairly accurate.  There are a few unfortunate exceptions with much more damage.  One lusher than average field in south-central Swisher County had 70 – 80% damaged primary heads in the low laying areas of the field and 30 – 40% in the higher elevated areas.  There are secondary heads available to this field and should help mitigate some of the yield loss associated with this freeze damage loss. 

                With the high and dry winds we have had, and no moisture, there are additional concerns about how much grain the plants can possibly be filling in those still healthy heads.  I did have the opportunity to pull some wheat heads from irrigated for grain fields this week.  I am finding decent dough filling in most seed sites.  I spoke to a producer who concurred with my beliefs.  We how much weight that seed will have to it is another question.  I would expect it to be fairly light given the conditions.

                For producers pushing wheat for grain yields, be on the lookout for wheat virus symptoms.  Once a wheat field is confirmed to have any of these viruses, yield potential drops rapidly, regardless of additional inputs.   I received the following today from Jacob Price, of the Texas A&M AgriLife Plant Pathology Lab in Amarillo:



Wheat Virus Early Detection Alert System Update- 14 May 2014

Jacob Price, Senior Research Associate

Plant Pathology- Texas AgriLife Research, Amarillo TX


The following wheat viral pathogens have been identified from samples collected at the following dates and counties:


Hill county, TX - Wheat streak mosaic virus 4/28/14

                              Triticum mosaic virus 4/28/14


Hale County, TX-  Wheat streak mosaic virus 4/28/14

                                Triticum mosaic virus 4/28/14


Dallam County, TX- Wheat streak mosaic virus 5/8/14


Haskell County, TX- Wheat streak mosaic virus 5/8/14

                                    Triticum mosaic virus 5/8/14

                                     High Plains virus 5/8/14


Symptoms of wheat viral diseases are found to be more severe during early season infections and although these plant samples were collected in late April and early May, initial virus infection likely occurred in the fall or early spring.  Wheat viruses are also found either signally or during co-infection with multiple viruses which also increases disease severity.  These pathogens can cause significant yield losses and producers in these areas are encouraged to scout their fields for symptoms of possible virus infection.  Early identification of these pathogens is important to help reduce losses due to infection.  For further information on wheat virus disease management and identification, including diagnostic sampling and submission, please visit the Plant Pathology Wheat Virus Early Detection System website or contact Jacob Price.


Jacob Price

Senior Research Associate

Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Amarillo, TX



Please call or come by if you have any questions,

Blayne Reed

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 6, 2014 Soil Temperature & Weed Concerns

I took a soil temperature reading (6 inch) at 8:30 am this morning 1 mile south of Plainview. 

                                66°F / conventional till / cotton on cotton / pre-irrigated.

                While this reading is a touch lower than ideal for cotton planting, when evaluating the weather for the upcoming week, we note a warming trend that looks to stay.  Cotton should be ok, soil temperature wise, to plant.  I have a much larger concern about the lack of moisture, dry conditions sucking out all of the costly applied pre-irrigation, and our ability to irrigate up a crop.  There truly are few of these problems a gentle three inch rain would not alleviate.

                As I make preliminary rounds through the county, I am finding an alarming number of weeds already emerged in several of the area’s potential cotton fields.  These weeds have been flushing with each and every pre-irrigation.  In some cases, a select few weeds have come through pre-plant residual.  In others without any applied residual, the number of emerged weeds looks to be 5 or six fold.  In seasons past, these weeds, regardless of number, were a minor concern as we could count on Roundup to clean them up with the first pass.  I no longer feel this is the case.  In fact I could make the case that these already emerged weeds have been at least 90% of our problematic weeds in recent seasons.

                I urge producers to get a quick scout across their fields to confirm or disavow the presence of these seedling weeds before the planter heads to the field.  We still have some pre-plant knockdown with residual options that has a good chance of taking these weeds down before the planter leaves seeds among the weed patches.


Please call or come by with any questions,

Blayne Reed

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Planting Time and Soil Temperatures - May 1, 2014

May 1, 2014

Planting Time and Soil Temperatures


                It is planting season again, time to get another season’s crop up and growing.  The best way of doing that is with a good start.  The first step in getting any summer crop started well is planting and planning for good soil temperatures, especially for cotton.  Even though environmental and soil moisture conditions are far below any desired level, we have been get the annual question again, “What is the soil temperature today?”

                Cotton gets off to its best start when planted in a recommended 69°F consistent temperature soil (roughly 64°F bare minimum with a week’s worth of warm weather on the way).  Sorghum requires a 57°F recommended consistent temperature (roughly 55°F bare minimum with a warming trend to follow).  Corn needs a minimum of 50°F and no freezing temperatures and a general warming trend following planting.

                So, where do we stand today following the latest cold front?  I took a soil temperature reading at 8:30 this morning at the Halfway Experiment Station in western Hale County.  The soil temperature was 52°F in a fairly dry, conventional till field situation. 

                With at least a week’s worth of warmer weather on the way, we should be in good shape to continue any corn and sorghum planting.  I would recommend we wait on those soil temperatures to raise ten more degrees before cotton is planted.  We will continue to post additional soil temperature readings here early next week.  IF the weather forecast can be believed, gaining ten degrees in soil temperature might not take but a few days.


Please call or come by with any questions,

Blayne Reed