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Wheat head armyworms in Oklahoma wheat

Heath Sanders, Canola Field Specialist with Great Plains Canola, was scouting some wheat fields for armyworms in southern Oklahoma this past week and sent us some photos of damaged wheat heads that were being fed upon by wheat head armyworm. He stated that he had a hard time finding the worms because they blended in so well with the color of the wheat.

The insect causing the damage was Faronta diffusa, known as the wheat head armyworm. Unlike the armyworm, which was discussed last week, the wheat head armyworm is very capable of damaging wheat kernels. Adult moths lay eggs on plants in the spring, and the larva feed directly on the grain heads, mostly at night. The caterpillars range in color from gray to greenish with distinct yellow, white and brown stripes going lengthwise across the body. They typically have a larger head relative to their body. Because the larvae are so variable in color, the best way to identify them is to send in a sample to the Plant Disease and Insect Diagnostic Lab.

Wheat head armyworm

Wheat head armyworm

Wheat head army worm

Wheat head armyworm

Fields can be scouted with a sweep net to determine numbers of caterpillars. There is no established treatment threshold because it rarely causes economic damage and more often than not the damage is not noticed until the grain is harvested. If wheat is at soft dough, consider treating the field to reduce damage. This insect is often found along the margins of fields so if scouting shows that they are restricted to the field edges, consider spraying the field margins with a border spray. Pay careful attention to pre-harvest intervals when selecting an insecticide.

This insect rarely causes significant damage. The major issue with wheat head armyworm damage has to do with the grain grading which is classified as IDK (Insect Damaged Kernels). Grain elevators will dock wheat when samples contain 6-31 damaged kernels per 100 grams of seed. To coincide with the Food and Drug Administration’s defect action levels, the U.S. Standards for Wheat consider wheat containing 32 or more insect-damaged kernels per 100 grams as U.S. Sample Grade. This grain is unfit for human consumption and can only be sold as animal feed. It is important to note that although the wheat is damaged, it is not an indication of an on-going infestation of grain weevil or some other stored grain insect pest.

Wheat head army worm damage and a Suzuki 4-wheeler

Wheat head army worm damage

Kernel damage associated with wheat head armyworm

Kernel damage associated with wheat head armyworm

The best strategy to manage the problem at harvest is to combine wheat harvested from head rows with wheat harvested from the rest of the field to dilute IDK percentages. Treating a field with insecticide at harvest will be of little help because the damage is already done, most of the caterpillars have already pupated and remaining larvae can’t feed on the mature wheat grain.

If a load is docked or rejected, check on insurance options. Most crop insurance policies have a Quality Loss Adjustment clause that covers the damage up to 25% of the crop’s value, regardless of the yield. Work with your elevator to collect and store samples of the wheat that can be used as evidence of the in-field damage.

This link will access Subpart M for US Standards for Wheat which discusses grades and grade requirements for wheat: http://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/standards/810wheat.pdf

For more information on this topic, contact Tom A. Royer, Extension Entomologist at tom.royer@okstate.edu or Edmond Bonjour, Extension Stored Grain Entomologist

Watch for armyworms in wheat

We have a late-maturing wheat crop that finally received some needed rain.   I received a report of armyworms infesting wheat in the Vernon, Texas area. Armyworm infestations typically occur in late April through the first two weeks of May, but the cooler spring we are experiencing this year may have delayed their development.

Armyworm infestations occur more frequently around waterways, areas of lush growth, or areas with lodged plants. These areas should be checked first to determine the size of the infestation. Armyworm 2 Royer 2007

Early signs of an infestation include leaves with ragged margins that have been chewed.  You may find “frass” i.e. the excrement from armyworm caterpillars, around the base of wheat stems.  They also tend to clip heads from developing wheat plants. The head clipping I have noticed over the years us usually restricted to secondary tillers with very small, green heads that would not likely contribute much to yield.

Armyworm damaged wheat heads

Armyworm damaged wheat heads

Scout for armyworms, at 5 or more locations looking for “curled up worms”.  Armyworm caterpillars tend to feed at night, so a good strategy is to bring a flashlight and look at fields after dusk when they are feeding up on the plant stems.  The suggested treatment threshold for armyworms is 4-5 unparasitized caterpillars per linear foot of row.

Clipped heads from armyworm feeding

Clipped heads from armyworm feeding

Armyworms have a number of natural enemies that help keep populations in check, if given a chance.  In particular, parasitic wasps and flies attack them.  If you find small white cocoons littered on the ground that are about ¾ the size of a cue tip, the natural enemies have already taken care of the problem.

 

 

Parasitized armyworms

Parasitized armyworms

If wheat is past the soft dough stage, control is not warranted unless obvious head clipping can be seen and caterpillars are still present and feeding. Worms feeding on the awns when plants are past soft dough will not cause enough yield loss to justify the expense of an insecticide application that is solely intended for armyworm control. When choosing to spray, keep in mind that some insecticides require a 30 day waiting period for harvest.

Consult CR-7194 Management of Insect and Mite Pests of Small Grains for information on insecticides registered for control of armyworms.

For more information on this topic, contact Tom A. Royer, Extension Entomologist at tom.royer@okstate.edu

Wheat disease update – 15 May 2015

Wheat disease updates are written by Dr. Bob Hunger, OSU Extension Plant Pathologist

Oklahoma:  Early this week I spent time around Stillwater, Lahoma (10 miles west of Enid), and Cherokee and Alva (north-central OK not far from the Kansas border).  Wheat ranged from soft dough around Stillwater to milk at Alva (but quickly approaching dough).  There is a big difference between the wheat in these areas; obviously wheat around Alva suffered more drought stress than Cherokee, which is worse than Lahoma or Stillwater.  However, lots of moisture and cool temperatures are allowing wheat to fill and mature.

As expected, leaf rust has exploded around Stillwater, with susceptible varieties such as OK Bullet at 80-90S.  Leaves are gone on varieties that were highly susceptible to stripe rust, but varieties with stripe rust resistance that are susceptible to leaf rust (e.g., Jackpot, Greer) are now hit hard with leaf rust.

Weather since the middle of April has been reminiscent of the weather in April and May of 2007.  As a result, wheat diseases favored by cool and wet weather are starting to occur with increasing frequency and severity.  These diseases are causing head discoloration, which can be caused by fungi or bacteria.  Around Stillwater and Lahoma, head discoloration due to a bacterium (Xanthomonas) has been observed.  l have had reports of similar symptoms on wheat in southwestern OK, where more rain has fallen then around Stillwater.  This bacterial disease is called black chaff when on the heads and is called bacterial streak when symptoms are expressed on leaves.  The fungi Septoria and Stagonospora also can cause head discoloration, and we have isolated Septoria from several samples during the last week or so.  For a full discussion of the various causes of head discoloration along with pictures, clicking on the following link will take you to the e-Pest Alert sent out in June, 2007.

http://entoplp.okstate.edu/pddl/pddl/2007/PDIA6-17.pdf

Barley yellow dwarf also was observed this past week, but it was not extensive and little to no stunting was associated with the BYD spots indicating infection most likely occurred in the spring.

Purple / yellow leaves associated with barley yellow dwarf

Purple / yellow leaves associated with barley yellow dwarf

 

I have had reports of Fusarium head blight (scab) from southeastern KS, from Arkansas, and from eastern/northeastern OK, but have had no reports from anywhere else in Oklahoma.

Fusarium head blight (head scab) can partially or completely infect wheat heads

Fusarium head blight (head scab) can partially or completely infect wheat heads

Fusarium head blight (head scab)

Fusarium head blight (head scab)

Fusarium head blight infected (top) vs. normal wheat kernels

Fusarium head blight infected (top) vs. normal wheat kernels

 

The diagnostic lab continued to receive multiple samples that tested positive for Wheat streak mosaic virus, with several also testing positive for High plains virus (Wheat mosaic virus) and Barley yellow dwarf virus.  For information on mite-transmitted diseases, I refer you to EPP-7328 (Wheat Streak Mosaic, High Plains Disease, and Triticum Mosaic:  Three Virus Diseases of Wheat in Oklahoma) also available at http://osufacts.okstate.edu.

 

Reports/excerpts of reports from other states: 

Colorado:  Dr. Scott Haley (Wheat Breeder); Colorado State Univ, 13-May-2015:  “Stripe rust continues to develop in CO. Cool wet weather will likely favor continued development. Wheat is about at the heading growth stage.”

Wheat disease update – 08 May 2015

Wheat disease updates are written by Dr. Bob Hunger, OSU Extension Plant Pathologist

Oklahoma:

In addition to looking at wheat around Stillwater this past week, I also was at field meetings near Kingfisher (30 miles northwest of OKC), Kildare (10 miles north of Ponca City), and Lahoma (10 miles west of Enid).  Wheat was at full berry to borderline milk.

Stripe rust, leaf rust, and powdery mildew were present at all locations, with stripe rust by far the most prevalent.  Where a fungicide had been sprayed (e.g., in Dr. Jeff Edwards variety trial), the effect was striking in terms of green leaf tissue.  Difference in variety susceptibility to stripe rust was obvious, with Ruby Lee, Garrision, Pete, and Everest being some of the more common highly susceptible varieties.  There also seems to be varieties with high levels of resistance (e.g., Gallagher, Jackpot, etc), and intermediate resistance; however, I’ll wait until I have all ratings in to evaluate this in more detail.

This overhead shot of the Chickasha intensive and standard wheat variety trials illustrates the severity of stripe rust in the region. The intensively managed trials on the left was treated with a fungicide just prior to heading. The standard trial on the right has the exact same varieties but no fungicide. The "middle" replication between the two studies is a border of Ruby Lee that is 1/2 treated 1/2 non treated. Photo courtesy Brian Arnall.

This overhead shot of the Chickasha intensive and standard wheat variety trials illustrates the severity of stripe rust in the region. The intensively managed trials on the left was treated with a fungicide just prior to heading. The standard trial on the right has the exact same varieties but no fungicide. The “middle” replication between the two studies is a border of Ruby Lee that is 1/2 treated 1/2 non treated. Photo courtesy Brian Arnall.

Leaf rust can be found in some varieties at severe levels, but has not increased to a level comparable to stripe rust.  Most commonly, I am seeing it on leaves of varieties that are resistant to stripe rust, but susceptible to leaf rust (e.g., Jackpot).

Barley yellow dwarf also was observed at all locations, but little to no stunting was associated with the BYD, so infection most likely occurred in the spring.

Powdery mildew also was observed at every location, but only rarely was on the flag leaf or heads.

I have not seen any Fusarium head blight, but have had a few reports of it from eastern/northeastern OK.

The diagnostic lab continued to receive samples testing positive for Wheat streak mosaic virus, with several also testing positive for High plains virus (Wheat mosaic virus)  For information on mite-transmitted diseases, I refer you to EPP-7328 (Wheat Streak Mosaic, High Plains Disease, and Triticum Mosaic:  Three Virus Diseases of Wheat in Oklahoma) also available at www.wheat.okstate.edu 

 

Reports/excerpts of reports from other states: 

Kansas Dr. Erick De Wolf (Extension Plant Pathologist); Kansas State Univ, 4-May-2015:  “The past week continued to bring more finds and reports of rust diseases in Kansas. Stripe rust is the primary concern many growers and the disease is now established in many areas of the state.  The disease has moved onto the upper leaves in many fields in the southeastern and south central regions of the state.  The wheat in these areas of the state was at or near the heading and flowering stages of growth this past week. Infections on the upper leaves at these stages of growth places the crop at risk for severe yield losses.  Stripe rust was found at low levels in many counties in the central and north central regions.  The disease was also reported at low levels in western Kansas.  At this point the stripe rust was primarily low to moderate incidence (1-5%) and mostly restricted to the lower leaves of many fields in the central and western regions.  However, the weather this past week was very conducive for stripe rust and the disease may soon increase to damaging levels in more areas.

The risk of yield loss in these areas depends heavily on weather over the next 2 weeks.  Stripe rust is favored by temperatures in the 40-60’s, frequent rain or heavy dew deposition. The progress of stripe rust often slows when nighttime temperatures exceed 60 degrees F.  The weather outlook for the central region indicates that rain is likely this week but also suggests low temperatures may slow further disease development. Temperatures in north central and western Kansas may be more conducive for stripe rust.  So far the stripe rust is most severe on varieties known to be susceptible to the disease but there are some early indications of unusual disease reactions on varieties previously thought to be resistant.  I will gather more information and come back with reports soon.

Leaf rust has also been detected at trace or low levels at many of the same locations as stripe rust (Crawford, Clay, Ness, Riley, Saline, and Sumner counties).  These reports are significant because the presence of leaf rust increases the risk of disease related yield loss in the state. Many of the popular varieties grown in the state are susceptible to leaf rust and finding the disease prior to flowering indicates the leaf rust may also cause problems in some areas.  To date the leaf rust appears to be most common on varieties with the Lr39/41 resistance gene (Fuller and WB 4458 for example).

 

TEXAS:  Dr. Clark Neely (Small Grains & Oilseed Extn Specialist; Texas A&M AgriLife; College Station; 7-May-2015:  “I spent the past several days attending wheat field days in northeast Texas. Stem rust was found in susceptible soft wheat varieties in Ellis County. After fading away for the most part from warmer temperatues, stripe rust was re-establishing itself on flag leaves of susceptible varieties in due to the cooler, wet weather affecting the region. Most wheat in the region is in the milk-soft dough stage. Leaf rust was moderate to severe on susceptible lines at Howe, TX including TV 8861, however, leaf rust was much lighter at Leonard and Farmersville, TX locations.”

 

Georgia:  Alfredo Martinez, John Youmans, James Buck; University of Georgia; 6-May-2015:  “Leaf rust infections have been observed in commercial wheat fields in Southwest Georgia (Seminole Co. Mitchel Co. Taylor Co.). The incidence of leaf rust seems to be localized and the severity was low. Stripe rust was confirmed in northwest GA (Floyd Co.). The incidence and severity was minor. Commercial fields surveyed near UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Research Station in Plains, GA and around the UGA CAES Bledsoe Farm near Griffin GA yielded no stripe, leaf rust or stem rust infections.  Low rust and powdery mildew on wheat in GA was probably due to the use of resistant varieties and /or timely applied fungicides. However, for a second year in row, Fusarium Head Blight (FHB/Scab) incidences were numerous (albeit not as prevalent as in 2014), in some fields the severity was high. Surveyed fields in Sumter Co. had severity of 50%-60%. Environmental conditions at the time of wheat flowering provided conducive conditions for FHB infections especially in the southernmost part of the state. Stagonospora spot blotch and tan spot were observed throughout the state and seemed more prevalent than previous years.”

Wheat leaf rust

Wheat leaf rust

Wheat stripe rust

Wheat stripe rust

Wheat disease update – 01 May 2015

Wheat disease updates are written by Dr. Bob Hunger, OSU Extension Plant Pathologist

Oklahoma:  This past week I spent in fields/nurseries around Stillwater and also attended field days in central OK (Caddo Cnty) and southwestern OK (Jackson Cnty).  Most of the wheat I saw was at ¼ to nearly full berry.  Foliar diseases have definitely increased.

Around Stillwater, powdery mildew is evident on the lower leaves in my fungicide trial (approx. 25% severity).  In the variety demo strips at Stillwater, I can find severities >65% on lower leaves.  However, stripe rust is still the most evident foliar disease with mid-canopy leaves of susceptible varieties often completely or nearly completely infected.  Flag leaves of susceptible varieties around Stillwater are beginning to show stripe rust pustules, but that is still not uniform in all fields/locations.  Also this past week I started to see leaf rust pustules developing on lower leaves; I only occasionally saw pustules on flag leaves with the exception of ‘Jagalene’, which was at 90% or so.

In central OK I saw mostly the same thing.  At the variety trial near Kingfisher (Kingfisher Cnty), disease was surprisingly light with stripe rust the most evident.  Near Apache OK (southern Caddo Cnty), disease was more prevalent with stripe rust the most severe.  Varieties resistant to stripe rust but susceptible to leaf rust (e.g., ‘Jackpot’ were beginning to show more leaf rust pustules).  Tan spot also was evident at this variety trial as it is a no-till field.

This overhead shot of the Chickasha intensive and standard wheat variety trials illustrates the severity of stripe rust in the region. The intensively managed trials on the left was treated with a fungicide just prior to heading. The standard trial on the right has the exact same varieties but no fungicide. The "middle" replication between the two studies is a border of Ruby Lee that is 1/2 treated 1/2 non treated. Photo courtesy Brian Arnall.

This overhead shot of the Chickasha intensive and standard wheat variety trials illustrates the severity of stripe rust in the region. The intensively managed trials on the left was treated with a fungicide just prior to heading. The standard trial on the right has the exact same varieties but no fungicide. The “middle” replication between the two studies is a border of Ruby Lee that is 1/2 treated 1/2 non treated. Photo courtesy Brian Arnall.

In southwestern OK (near Altus, OK), stripe rust was severe (90% or so) on the flag leaves of susceptible varieties such as ‘Ruby Lee’, ‘Everest’, and ‘Garrison’.  Varieties with resistance to stripe rust such as ‘Gallagher’ and ‘Billings’ showed little sporulation but loss of some green tissue due to the hypersensitive reaction (HR).  ‘Greer’ showed no stripe rust and no dead tissue due to the HR.  Here again, a variety like Jackpot showed no stripe rust, but leaf rust was at a moderate level.  An interesting observation was made by Dillon Butchee (Helena Chemical Rep), who noticed stripe rust sporulating inside the glumes of susceptible varieties, which I have seen only occasionally in Oklahoma.

In more northern OK, Greg Highfill (Extension Educator, Woods Cnty – near Alva, OK) indicated he has seen small amounts of stripe rust in the border of the test plot near Alva.  Although temperature is increasing, the forecast for next week is highs only in the low to mid 80s with Tuesday-Thursday being rainy again.  These temps will be lower in northern and northwestern OK.  Hopefully the rain will continue, but these conditions will favor continued spread and increase of particularly leaf rust.  For most of Oklahoma, I believe wheat is past or quickly approaching the point where a fungicide can no longer be applied.  For a discussion of this, see “CR-7668 Foliar Fungicides and Wheat Production in Oklahoma – April, 2015,” which is available at www.wheat.okstate.edu.

Stripe rust at Alva, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy Greg Highfill

Stripe rust at Alva, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy Greg Highfill

 

Finally, the diagnostic lab continues to receive samples testing positive for Wheat streak mosaic virus.  For information on mite-transmitted diseases, I refer you to EPP-7328 (Wheat Streak Mosaic, High Plains Disease, and Triticum Mosaic:  Three Virus Diseases of Wheat in Oklahoma) also available at www.wheat.okstate.edu

Reports/excerpts of reports from other states: 

Nebraska:  Dr. Stephen Wegulo (Extension Plant Pathologist); Univ of Nebraska, 28-Apr-2015:  “Yesterday I surveyed wheat fields in south central and southeast Nebraska.  Stripe rust was widespread (prevalence of >70%) in the southernmost tier of counties.  Incidence ranged from about 15% to > 80% in some fields.  Severity was mostly trace to low (< 10%), although a few isolated leaves had >50% severity (see attachment).  Growth stage was mostly Feekes 6; in a few fields it was Feekes 6 to 8, and in two irrigated fields wheat was in the boot stage.  These two irrigated fields apparently had been sprayed and there was no stripe rust in them, but I was able to find some leaves on which stripe rust development was stopped by the fungicide spray.  There was severe winter kill in some fields to the extent that the wheat was sprayed with herbicide and another crop will be planted.

Last week (Thursday and Friday) I surveyed wheat fields in the southern and northern Panhandle of Nebraska (the far northwest of the state) and in southwest and west central Nebraska.  I found no foliar diseases, but there was root rot in one field that also had some winter kill in the northern Panhandle.  In the west central part of the state, there was severe winter kill in some fields (see slide #3 in the attachment).  Growth stage ranged from Feekes 5 in the Panhandle to Feekes 5 to 6 in the southwest and west central parts of the state.”