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A Southern View

Crop Observations from Southern Illinois
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Wheat Observations

Posted by Robert Bellm -

Last year at this time soils were dry, temperatures were in the 80's, and growers in southern and central Illinois were pulling into the fields with corn planters. Flash forward 12 months and we have standing water in many fields, and potential snow flurries predicted for early next week. As a result, there is zero field work occurring other than some wheat nitrogen applications in fields that have better drainage, or may be frozen early in the morning. Currently the wheat crop is around Feekes Growth Stage 3 (tillers formed, breaking dormancy), whereas last year at this same time we were well into Feekes Growth Stage 5 (leaf sheaths strongly erect – typically the optimum time to apply nitrogen if it is going on as a single application).

As you drive around, you can observe some fields that are becoming discolored. You can often see varietal differences, as shown in the image above taken in the Wheat Variety Testing trial here at the Center. The problem is probably due to either wheat spindle-streak mosaic virus or wheat soil-borne mosaic virus. Both are viruses vectored by fungi in the soil, and plants should grow out of the problem as temperatures warm and soils dry.

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