Monday, May 18, 2009

The Debts of the Spenders: Wheat Fungus Watch

SRW Wheat Producers Watch For Fungal Diseases After Rains

Persistent rains in the eastern U.S. Midwest and Delta are raising concerns about the threat of fungal diseases to the type of wheat used in pastries and snack foods.

The biggest worry for growers of soft red winter wheat so far is Fusarium head blight, a disease that can reduce grain yield and quality, crop specialists said.

The disease, also known as head scab, infects plants when weather is wet during the flowering stage of development. Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas are expected to have trouble with head scab, although it’s too early to identify infections in some areas, specialists said.

However, the crop in Ohio, the top SRW wheat-growing state, has not started flowering yet and isn’t facing any serious disease threats, said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University plant pathologist.

“In general, the wheat looks great in Ohio,” he said.

Total soft red winter wheat production is projected at 422 million bushels this year, down from 614 million last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Producers reduced plantings to about 8.4 million acres from 11.2 million last year following a sharp drop in prices.
In Ohio, producers seeded 1 million acres for the 2009 crop, down from 1.1 million last year, according to the USDA.

Production is seen at 65.3 million bushels, with an average yield of 66 bushels per acre, down from 74.1 million last year, when the average yield was 68 bushels.

“The risk of head scab generally increases if frequent rain occurs at the time the crop is flowering,” Paul said.

“We’re going to have to keep our eyes out. As of today, the risk is pretty low.”

In Illinois, by contrast, the risk for scab was “pretty high” in far southern areas due to heavy rains about two weeks ago, said Carl Bradley, extension plant pathologist for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Plants that flowered later are probably facing less of a risk as
conditions dried up last week, he said.

It’s a little too early to see the development of symptoms of head scab, including bleached heads, in Illinois, Bradley said. There were some producers who sprayed fungicides to help suppress
the disease, he said.

Illinois is expected to produce 50.4 million bushels of wheat in 2009, with an average yield of 63 bushels, down from 73.6 million last year, when the average yield was 64 bushels, according to the USDA. Growers planted 850,000 acres, down from 1.2 million last year.

In Missouri, producers are watching for head scab because most areas, particularly in the south, were soggy during flowering, said Laura Sweets, a University of Missouri extension plant
pathologist. Wheat in central Missouri was flowering at the end of last week.

Missouri planted 600,000 acres of wheat for 2009, down from 730,000 acres last year, according to the USDA. Production is estimated at 38.3 million bushels, with a yield of 51 bushels, compared to 55.7 million last year, when the average yield was 48 bushels.

Source: CME News For Tomorrow
blog comments powered by Disqus

Blog Archive