|By MEGAN KUHN
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — With the recent warm, wet weather, Indiana’s winter wheat crop rated close to 80 percent good-to-excellent through April 23, according to a state USDA official.
“The Indiana winter wheat crop looks pretty good,” said Greg Preston, state statistician for the Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service. “I haven’t heard of too many problems with the crop so far. Though, from this point on, the possibility of disease is greater if we continue to have the wet weather.”
Preston said that Hoosier farmers planted 460,000 acres of winter wheat for the 2006 growing season, which is 100,000 acres more than the previous year. In the U.S., a total of 4.14 million acres of wheat was planted, up about 2 percent from the year before.
“The increase in acreage is probably due to slightly better wheat prices and the normal crop rotation cycle,” he said.
Other Midwest states also reported good winter wheat crops as of mid-April. Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky all reported that more than 70 percent of their winter wheat crop was in good-to-excellent condition.
While the Midwest has had adequate rainfall to keep the winter wheat crop progressing, other parts of the country haven’t been as fortunate. Dry weather has affected the winter wheat crops in the Great and Southern Plains, including Oklahoma and Texas.
“According to recent USDA crop progress reports, only 4 percent of Texas’ and 5 percent of Oklahoma’s wheat crop is considered good-to-excellent,” Preston said. “The report said that 48 percent of the Texas crop was considered very poor - our lowest category.”
He said that the Texas and Oklahoma crops are more mature than Indiana’s, so the chances of the crop condition improving are slim.
Recent hail damage
Preston said that some isolated hail damage was reported after storms passed through the state earlier this month, but the main wheat-producing areas of the state “seemed to dodge the hail.”
Shawn Conley, Purdue extension small grains specialist, echoed Preston’s comments and said that most of the hail damage was cosmetic.
“The majority of the hail damage that I have witnessed in central Indiana has been leaf shredding,” Conley wrote in the April 21 Pest & Crop Newsletter. “Though this damage does constitute a loss in leaf area, a minimum of 3-5 leaves have yet to emerge from the wheat whorl. Fortunately, these leaves were protected from damage and should quickly overcome any loss in whole plant photosynthesis.”
Growers should be watching their wheat crop for signs of disease and insect damage, Conley said.
“(Growers) can monitor their crop for armyworm, foliar leaf diseases and head scab,” he said.
Conley added that the management window for growers to improve their wheat crop has about closed.
“The only management tool that they have available now is a fungicide application prior to wheat flowering,” Conley said. “Dr. Greg Shaner has conducted this research at Purdue and often does not see a significant economic response to foliar fungicides in Indiana.”
To read Conley’s article in the Pest & Crop Newsletter, visit www.entm.pur due.edu/Entomology/ext/ext_newsletters.html
Indiana planting conditions
Preston said that with the recent warm weather, soil temperatures in Indiana have warmed up, which is good news for the corn crop already in the ground.
“Soil temperatures finally made it to 50 degrees F last week,” Preston said. “We finally had some sun to warm up the ground.”
While the ground is warming up, it is still quite wet in many areas of the state and this is slowing corn planting considerably.
Last year at this time, 33 percent of the state’s corn crop was planted. As of last Sunday, only 9 percent of Indiana’s corn crop was in the ground, according to the Indiana Crop Weather report released April 24.
“There is still a lot of water standing in fields,” Preston said.
The recent rains may be slowing planting progress, but Preston said the rain did help soil moisture across the state. Most of the state was experiencing slightly below average soil moisture, but now “soil moisture is finally slightly above average in most of the state,” he said.
To find the weekly crop report from state agricultural statistics services, visit www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/ and click on the state of your choice.
This farm news was published in the April 26, 2006 issue of Farm World.