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Wheat farmers: Look out for rust

Jeff Caldwell 03/29/2013 @ 9:57am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The Plains winter wheat crop's rapidly busting out of winter dormancy. It's a key step in the development of the crop. But, it's also a key time for diseases to work their way north from southern climes and start inflicting damage.

There's already stripe rust and in parts of the southeast and southern Plains, and leaf rust has been confirmed in Texas. Those diseases won't waste any time in moving north, says Oklahoma State University wheat disease specialist Bob Hunger. So, it's a time when quick action will be invaluable.

Thus far, the good news is none of the rust that's been confirmed is a new race, meaning currently available control methods will likely be effective. The bad news is stripe and leaf rust aren't the most difficult diseases to spread, and thus far, 3 major wheat varieties have shown susceptibility: Everest, Armour and TAM 111.

"Growers in Kansas should be monitoring the situation in Texas and Oklahoma. If the disease continues to develop in Texas or is reported in Oklahoma, we will need to evaluate the need for fungicides to suppress rust development in fields planted to susceptible varieties," Hunger says in a report from Kansas Wheat.

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