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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Wheat Crop Looking Good

October 28, 2010

WOOSTER, Ohio – With nearly all of Ohio's winter wheat planted, according to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, farmers are on track for a potentially successful crop.

"This year, corn and soybeans have come off in a timely manner, so most of our wheat has been planted under decent conditions. Reports from across the state indicate that wheat so far is looking good," said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University wheat specialist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Paul said that because of the early harvest of corn and soybeans, farmers got a jump on good wheat establishment. In some cases, this included planting before the Hessian fly free date, which could potentially lead to some disease problems in the spring due to fall establishment of some pathogens.

"Farmers are saying that they plant before the Hessian fly free date because they don't recall ever seeing the Hessian fly," said Paul. "Not only is the Hessian fly free date about the Hessian fly, it's also about planting at a time when you can get adequate tiller development without excessive early disease development."

The Hessian fly free date – ranging from September 22 in northern Ohio to October 5 in southern Ohio – is designed to prevent the development and spread of the Hessian fly, which can cause significant damage to wheat. In addition, the Hessian fly free date is also an ideal period to minimize disease development, one example being barely yellow dwarf disease.

"Barley yellow dwarf disease is transmitted by aphids. Aphid populations tend to drop during the Hessian fly free date, and when you have fewer aphids, there is less chance of virus transmission, and consequently, early disease development," said Paul. "The disease is most damaging to the wheat crop when it gets established in the fall."

Paul said that to minimize winter kill and disease problems in the spring, farmers should adhere to the Hessian fly free dates when planting wheat.

"You want to get the crop in the ground early to get good tiller development, but you don't want excessive growth going into the winter and to expose the crop to a high aphid population," said Paul.

Ohio farmers are anticipated to increase their acreage of wheat in 2011, largely due to an increase in projected wheat prices.

Candace Pollock
Pierce Paul