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Uneven wheat emergence and stand establishment – is my wheat going to make it?

Amanda de Oliveira Silva, Small Grains Extension Specialist

I have been watching some wheat fields consistently after that ice storm came in late October. I am currently seeing anything from good looking wheat fields to areas with incomplete, thin, and uneven stands. We might not see complete stands for a while as the wheat emergence seems to be very uneven, and the wheat is still slowly coming up (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Uneven wheat emergence in a field planted on October 16. Picture was taken on November 9, 2020.

The thin and uneven stand establishment of the current wheat crop is likely due to the severe drought from the end of September to most of October. Then, most of Oklahoma was hit by the ice storm during the last week of October, with some areas receiving up to 5 inches of rain. Although that rain came in a much-needed time, it could have created a crust in the soil preventing the coleoptile from breaking through the soil surface.

If the wheat fails to emerge as expected in your field, dig up the soil and look for an “accordion” like plant. If you see that wheat has emerged its first true leaf under the soil surface, and it has been sitting there for a week or more, it will probably not going make it (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Wheat that has emerged its first true leaf under the soil surface will lose viability after one week or so. Field planted on October 21. Picture taken on November 9, 2020.

However, I am seeing crinkled coleoptiles in fields around Stillwater that are coming up slowly and will be fine. The crinkles probably occurred when the heavy rain occurred during the ice storm, but it was not enough to prevent the coleoptile from continuing to grow and pushing through the soil surface for the most part (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Part of the coleoptile got crinkled due to heavy rain and light soil crusting during the emergence period. Still, most of the plants seem to continue growing and breaking through the soil surface. Field planted on October 21. Picture was taken on November 9, 2020.

Overall, our variety trials that were planted sometime in October are coming up nicely, but we might not have a complete stand for a little while in some locations. Robert Calhoun, the Senior Agriculturalist of OSU Small Grains Program.

Some fields that were planted in early-mid October is also just now starting to emerge near Kay County. Shannon Mallory, Kay County Extension Educator.

About 95% of the wheat in our variety trial at Altus has emerged and shows adequate stands (planted on September 29). Gary Strickland, the Jackson County Extension Agriculture Educator and Southwest Research and Extension Center Regional Agronomist.

Josh Bushong, the OSU Area Extension Agronomy Specialist, reported in his Ag Insights November report that most of the fields in the North Central region are showing thin and uneven stands. He also mentioned this would likely have a small effect for grain only-producers.

As a summary, most of the fields that I am seeing or hearing about that were planted in October are still coming up. Wheat growth is a function of temperature. The cooler temperatures and lower cumulative growing degree days in the coming months will slow down growth until March or so. Plants may compensate to a certain extent for that reduced stand, and wheat producers aiming for grain-only production should not be concerned yet.

The plant on the right is likely not going to make it as the first leaf seemed to be stuck in the leaf sheath and would not to be able to emerge properly.
Incomplete wheat stand for a field near Stillwater planted on October 21. This field had enough moisture for wheat to begin germination as soon as it was planted, but emergence was hindered by the excessive rain from the ice storm that took place during the week of October 26, 2020.
Wheat is looking good at the forage trial in Stillwater. Although, it would benefit for an additional drop of water. Planted on September 21, 2020. Picture taken on November 16, 2020.
Wheat demonstration plots planted on September 21 (on the back) and on October 16 (in the front). Picture taken on November 16, 2020.

Bird cherry oat aphids in wheat: showing up in large numbers

By Tom Royer, OSU Extension Entomologist

I have received several reports of (and photos, Figure 1) of bird cherry oat aphid (BCOA) numbers in winter wheat that will require treatment with an insecticide

Bird cherry oat aphid

Bird cherry oat aphid


Severe bird cherry oat aphid infestation

Severe bird cherry oat aphid infestation

Bird cherry oat aphids are small (2mm) olive-green aphids with a red-orange patch surrounding the base of each cornicle (Figure 1). Old, wingless, overwintering adult aphids are darker, almost black.  At this time, you may also find winged aphids that have moved in to the field (Figure 2).

Winged bird cherry oat aphid

Winged bird cherry oat aphid

What are my suggestions regarding control of bird cherry oat aphid in winter wheat?

  • Unpublished research provided by Dr. Kris Giles (OSU) and Dr. Norm Elliott (USDA-ARS) along with studies conducted in South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Dakota on spring wheat indicated that BCOA causes yield loss before wheat reaches the boot stage. Approximately 5-9% yield loss occurs when there are 20-40 BCOA per tiller (average 7%).
  • Visible damage from bird cherry-oat aphid is not very noticeable so infestations may go unnoticed. It is very important to check fields for infestations and make treatment decisions only after a field has been checked.

My suggestion for making a treatment decision is as follows:

If greenbugs and bird cherry oat aphids are both present, use Glance n’ Go to scout, which can be accessed at http://entoplp.okstate.edu/gbweb/index3.htm.  Published research from Giles and Elliott showed that Glance n’ Go sampling will work with both aphids if they are both present.

If bird cherry-oat aphid is present alone, count the number of aphids present on each of 25 randomly-selected tillers across a zigzag transect of the field. The reason that you can’t use Glance n’ Go is that the most available research suggests that the threshold is too high to effectively use Glance n’ Go.

Look for evidence of parasite activity in the form of mummies (Figure 3).  A rule of thumb is that if 5-10% of the aphids are mummies, more than 90% are already parasitized.  If mummies are not present, use the guidelines below to make a treatment decision.

Parasitized bird cherry oat aphid

Parasitized bird cherry oat aphid

If, after thoroughly scouting your field, you can identify that infestations are spotty, consider spot spraying with a ground rig.

Use the YIELD LOSS TABLE to determine a potential YIELD LOSS from the aphids.  Then estimate your CROP VALUE and calculate your CONTROL COSTS.  Use those numbers to estimate PREVENTABLE LOSS.    If estimated PREVENTABLE LOSS is greater than CONTROL COSTS, Treat; otherwise, Don’t Treat.


Here is an Example:


Step 1:  Estimate YIELD LOSS:


  • Total # aphids_______525___________/25 tillers = average # aphids/tiller_____21_____


Step 2:  Estimate CROP VALUE:  (Crop Value = Yield potential X Price per bushel)

  • Yield potential__40____ bushels/acre X price per bushel $____4.50____ per bushel


CROP VALUE = $___180____


Step 3:  Estimate CONTROL COSTS: (Control Cost = Insecticide Cost + Application Cost)


  • Insecticide cost $___6_____ /acre  +  Application Cost       $ ____3_____/acre


CONTROL COSTS $_____9_____/acre


Step 4:  Estimate PREVENTABLE LOSS (Crop Value X Yield Loss from Aphid)


  • Crop value/acre $___180_____  x Yield Loss from aphid ___0.07_____


PREVENTABLE LOSS $____12.60______/acre


IF PREVENTABLE LOSS $___12.60_____ is greater than CONTROL COSTS $___9.00_____ TREAT


IF PREVENTABLE LOSS $________ is less than CONTROL COSTS $__________                                   DON’T TREAT


Check CR-7194, “Management of Insect and Mite Pests in Small Grains” for registered insecticides, application rates, and grazing/harvest waiting periods.

It can be obtained from any County Extension Office, or found at the OSU Extra Website at http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2601/CR-7194web2008.pdf

Freeze injury update 21 March 2016

Temperatures over the weekend were cold enough to cause injury to the Oklahoma wheat crop. As shown in the figure below from the Oklahoma Mesonet many areas of Oklahoma spent several hours below 28F. While temperatures in the wheat canopy might have remained slightly higher than reported air temperatures, they were still probably low enough to result in significant injury to wheat.


Hours spent below 28F March 18 - 20

Hours spent below 28F March 18 – 20


A few points I would encourage everyone to consider:

Every freeze event is unique – the temperatures and time durations we use regarding freeze injury are rules of thumb and are not exact. I have seen instances where conventional wisdom would indicate complete crop loss and we skate through with minimal damage.
It will take a few days to see how bad things are – Symptoms may start to appear later this week and will likely be clearly identifiable by the end of this week. Healthy wheat heads will remain turgid with a green color. Damaged wheat heads will be bleached, yellow, or brown and will easily break when pushed against. I anticipate that we will not have any partial “blanking” of wheat heads and that most wheat heads will either be okay or a complete loss. This post from last year has some pictures showing tell tale signs of freeze injury. The linked post also serves as a reminder that while freeze is the concern of the day, the potential worsening of drought conditions in NW Oklahoma has the potential to do far more damage.

% damaged heads might not = % yield loss –  It is still relatively early in the growing season and there is still opportunity for smaller (two nodes or less) wheat to produce additional tillers and/or retain secondary tillers. Whether or not these tillers are able to compensate for larger tillers that were lost due to freeze will depend on moisture and weather. IF (and that is a big if) weather conditions remain favorable, late emerging tillers in central and northern Oklahoma might still have a shot at producing grain. It will be tougher for more advanced wheat in southern Oklahoma to make this type of recovery.


First hollow stem nearing

First hollow stem occurs just prior to jointing and is the optimal time to remove cattle from wheat pasture. Given the warm forecast for the next two weeks, it is likely that we will start seeing first hollow stem in Oklahoma wheat fields. Grazing past first hollow stem can reduce wheat grain yield by as much as 5% per day and the added cattle gains are not enough to offset the value of the reduced wheat yield.

Similar to previous years, we will monitor occurrence of first hollow stem in our wheat plots at Stillwater and report the findings on this blog. There is also a first hollow stem advisor available on the Oklahoma Mesonet that can assist in determining when to start scouting.

Checking for first hollow stem is fairly easy.

  • You must check first hollow stem in a nongrazed area of the same variety and planting date. Variety can affect date of first hollow stem by as much as three weeks and planting date can affect it even more.
  • Dig or pull up a few plants and split the largest tiller longitudinally (lengthways) and measure the amount of hollow stem present below the developing grain head. You must dig plants because at this stage the developing grain head may still be below the soil surface.
  • If there is 1.5 cm of hollow stem present (see picture below), it is time to remove cattle. 1.5 cm is about the same as the diameter of a dime.
  • Detailed information on first hollow stem can be found at www.wheat.okstate.edu under ‘wheat management’ then ‘grazing’
  • Image

Is this the year for split fungicide application?

The stripe rust epidemic of 2015 is still fresh on the minds of many wheat farmers. Reports of active stripe rust on wheat in southern Oklahoma has producers now wondering if we are in for a repeat in 2016. While it is too early to tell if environmental conditions will favor a stripe rust outbreak in 2016, having active rust on wheat in the area satisfies at least one of the requirements for an epidemic. Most Oklahoma wheat producers will still be best advised to monitor the situation and make the fungicide decision based on yield potential and likelihood of infection when the flag leaf is emerging. Those with fields already showing heavy infection of foliar disease, however, might also benefit from a two-pass fungicide system. A few talking points and items to consider for those considering a two-pass system are posted below. A fact sheet on the topic of split application of fungicides can be found at www.wheat.okstate.edu

When to apply – The first pass in a two-pass fungicide system should be applied just after jointing. Please note that this is well after topdress nitrogen should be applied. For this and other reasons (see Dr. Arnall’s blog), tank mixing fungicides with nitrogen is generally not a good practice. Remember that the purpose of the early fungicide application is to keep disease in check until you come back with a flag leaf application in April. Going too early can result in too large of a gap between applications and enough time for disease to re-establish. Going too late can reduce the return on investment. Timing is everything with fungicides.

How much to apply – Back in the day, the discussion around split fungicide application centered on half rates for the first application. This recommendation was because of cost savings rather than disease management. The availability of low-cost, generic fungicides, though, has changed our philosophy, and a full rate of a low cost fungicide is the standard for split applications.

Which product to choose – Product choice is at the discretion of the consumer. If you are considering how to best spend your season-long fungicide budget, however, I would strongly recommend saving your “best” and perhaps most expensive product for the flag leaf application.

Watch season-long restrictions – As always, please read labels carefully and make note of season-long application restrictions. You don’t want an early fungicide application to remove the ability to apply your preferred product at flag leaf.

Wheat stripe rust

Wheat stripe rust

This overhead shot of the 2015 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.

This overhead shot of the 2015 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.

How to make $100,000 in a day

No, this blog post is not about a get rich quick scheme, but there is a way for the average wheat farmer in the southern Great Plains to add $50,000 to $100,000 to the bottom line in a single day. Many soil tests I have pulled have shown as much as 50 to 90 lb/ac of NO3-N in the top 18 inches of soil. Ninety pounds of N equates to about $45 of N fertilizer, and this knowledge could save a 2,500 acre wheat farmer in excess of $100,000 in fertilizer cost. Soil testing is laborious, but the potential economic returns for spending a day or two soil sampling are outstanding.

There is still time to soil sample. Soil samples only take a few days to process once they are in the OSU lab. It is not unusual for transit time to the lab to the slowest part of the process, so if you need a fast turnaround a trip to drop samples in the Ag Hall basement in Stillwater will help (plus you have probably been wanting cheese fries). If you have already applied pre-plant fertilizer or sown wheat, there is still time to assess soil N availability and uptake via the N-Rich Strip. In its simplest form, the N-rich strip is an area where N is not limiting. Either by visual assessment or with the assistance of an optical sensor, you can use the N-rich strip to determine your top dress N requirement, but you must create the N-rich strip this fall.

Soil testing is not always easy, but it is time well spent. My high school shop teacher would have labeled me a "Primitive Pete" for this photo.

Soil testing is not always easy, but it is time well spent. My high school shop teacher would have labeled me a “Primitive Pete” for this photo.

The bottom line is that a day of soil testing or putting out N-rich strips is well worth your time investment. On another note, how would you like to make money and improve your health at the same time? I have a multi-level marketing opportunity that I can get you in on the ground floor, but don’t tell anyone else. I can only make this deal for you and only today. There will be a small “buy in” fee that you will need to pay cash up front, though.

Partial funding for the research included in this blog post was provided by USDA Project No.2012-02355 through the National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Regional Approaches for Adaptation to and Mitigation of Climate Variability and Change

Q & A regarding PVP seed laws

Stories about seed law violations and fines have sprung up occasionally in the farm press over the past few years. These stories have tended to focus on the “penalty” part of the law and the magnitude of the fines rather than how the law protects Oklahoma farmers’ investments in wheat variety development and the provisions in the law that allow farmers to save seed for replanting. The purpose of this article is to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the PVP law.

What is PVP?
The Plant Variety Protection Act (PVP or PVPA) is a federal seed law designed to protect the intellectual property of plant breeders, seed producers, and those who have funded variety development (in our case OSU and Oklahoma Taxpayers). The PVP law that you read about in the news today was enacted in 1994 and was an amendment to a law originally passed in 1970. The law prohibits the sale of farmer-saved seed without the variety owner’s permission. This protection lasts for 20 years for most crops. The ‘Title V’ you sometimes see tacked on to the end of PVP, refers to an amendment to the federal seed act stating that the variety can only be sold as a class of certified seed and by variety name.

Can I save seed from PVP-protected varieties?
Yes. You can save seed from PVP-protected varieties to plant on land you own or rent. You just cannot sell or trade the seed for planting purposes. A comparable example is an audio cd. You can make extra copies of an audio cd for your own use, such as an extra copy for the truck, without creating any problems. However, if you placed copies of the latest Sturgill Simpson cd for sale on Ebay, you would likely be contacted by the owners of the music regarding your unauthorized sale of their intellectual property.

Can I save seed of Clearfield varieties?
No, because Clearfield varieties are protected by a utility patent which protects a specific gene within the cultivar. Other examples of crop seed with genes protected by a utility patent include Roundup Ready, Bollgard, and Liberty Link. Wheat farmers will likely be seeing greater use of utility patents in the future but to my knowledge Clearfield varieties are the only hard wheat cultivars currently protected by a utility patent.

What about selling variety not stated (VNS) seed?
Not allowed. As indicated earlier, Title V of the federal seed act states that PVP-protected varieties can only be sold by variety name as a certified class of seed. This is one of several “ways-around-the-law” type questions that I am frequently asked at meetings and the answer is almost always no, you cannot do that. Other examples of violations would include: selling feed wheat, trading seed, giving seed away, and selling the standing crop of a PVP-protected variety and saving the seed.

The law just applies to the seller, right?
No. If there is a violation, then all parties involved can be included in the lawsuit. This includes the buyer, seller, seed conditioners, and even the entity spreading/planting the seed for the farmer.

How do I know if a variety is protected?
Certified seed of a protected variety will be clearly marked as such on the seed tag or the bulk label. The OSU Wheat Variety Comparison Chart indicates which varieties are PVP-protected and can be found at www.wheat.okstate.edu under Variety Testing, then under Variety Characteristics. Most varieties are now PVP-protected.

OSU is a public institution, why are they PVP-protecting varieties?
First and foremost, OSU acquires PVP-protection for new wheat cultivars to protect our (OSU, farmers, and taxpayers) collective investment in variety development. It takes 10 – 15 years to develop a wheat variety and this is not a cheap process. Without PVP protection others could reproduce an OSU wheat variety and profit from its sale without any benefit returned to farmers or OSU. PVP-protection ensures that when you buy an OSU variety, you are getting exactly the variety you are paying for and OSU has ensured quality-control standards through the certification process. It also ensures that a portion of the purchase price is returned to OSU for re-investment in the wheat breeding program where it is used to develop well-adapted varieties and ensure that the public sector remains competitive in wheat variety development.

Where can I find more information?
I am an agronomist, not a lawyer, so this article was meant to only hit the high points. A complete copy of the law (45 pages) can be found with a Google search of ‘plant variety protection act’. Texas AgriLife Extension also has a good summary of the law that can be found with a Google search for ‘plant variety protection act TAMU’.

Northwestern / north central Oklahoma wheat update – drought, greenbugs, and freeze

Dr. Hunger traveled southwest Oklahoma this week, so I made a trip out Hwy. 60 yesterday to evaluate freeze injury and assess the overall condition of the wheat crop in northwestern and north central Oklahoma. Last week’s warm temperatures and wind have taken their toll on wheat in Kay, Grant, and eastern Garfield Counties. It is not too late for rain to save a partial wheat crop in these areas, but the “full yield potential” ship sailed long ago. Wheat sown behind summer crops is the hardest hit, and wheat in these fields could best be described as yellow and thin. If the weather turned and we received rain in the next week, I would predict that yield potential in these fields would still only be around the 15 bushel mark. Without rain, subtract around 15 bushels. Wheat planted behind summer fallow has held on a little longer, but is clearly showing the signs of extreme drought stress. If we receive rain in the next week (and continue to see rain) these fields could still make 20 – 30 bushels per acre. In the absence of rain in the near future, they will be 10 bushels per acre or less.

Wheat in the Lamont test plot was approximately GS 7 - 8. Flag leaves were rolled and plants were starting to abort tillers.

Wheat in the Lamont test plot was approximately GS 7 – 8. Flag leaves were rolled and plants were starting to abort tillers.


In addition to drought stress, we found freeze injury and greenbugs at Lamont. I was a little surprised to find freeze injury and even more surprised to find the greatest injury in the later-maturing varieties. We split several stems of early varieties such as Ruby Lee and Gallagher and did not find any injury. These varieties would have likely been at approximately GS 7 – 8 when the freeze occurred. We found significant injury in later-maturing varieties such as Endurance, but these varieties were likely only GS 6 – 7 when the freeze occurred. Conventional wisdom regarding freeze injury is that the more advanced the variety, the greater the likelihood of freeze injury. After seeing the same phenomenon last year (i.e. the greatest injury in later maturing varieties) I am changing my thinking on freeze injury and now say that all bets are off when it comes to freeze injury in drought stressed wheat.

Freeze injury was greatest in late-maturing varieties at Lamont.

Freeze injury was greatest in late-maturing varieties at Lamont.


Overall wheat condition started to improve around Nash and Jet, I would say that much of the wheat in this area is CURRENTLY in fair to good condition. I emphasize the currently in the previous sentence, as the only difference between wheat in the Cherokee area and wheat to the east was about one week’s worth of moisture. Some terrace ridges had already started turning blue and moisture was starting to run out. Without rain wheat in this area will rapidly deteriorate from good to poor. One consistent theme throughout the day was greenbugs. Many sites had evidence of parasitic wasp activity (i.e. aphid mummies), but the presence or absence of parasitic wasp activity varied field by field. Dr. Royer has indicated that greenbugs still need to be controlled in drought stressed wheat. If parasitic wasps are active, the best decision is to let them do the aphid killing for you. If no mummies are present, then insecticide control could be justified. The only sure way to make this determination is to use the glance-n-go sampling system.


Greenbugs were alive and well at Lamont

Greenbugs were alive and well at Lamont

Parasitic wasps were keeping greenbug populations under control in this field

Parasitic wasps were keeping greenbug populations under control in this field

Active and parasitized greenbugs on the same plant

Active and parasitized greenbugs on the same plant


Similar to Lamont, we found freeze injury in the Cherokee and Helena areas. Many of the worst looking fields (extensive leaf burn) had only superficial injury and should recover if moisture allows. Conversely, some plants that showed no outward signs of freeze injury had injured heads within.  Most fields I surveyed had less than 10% injury, but one field was a complete loss. On the surface the 10% injury field and 100% loss field looked the same, so I cannot over stress the importance of splitting stems. I have received a few additional reports of freeze injury from Kay County this morning, so it is important for producers throughout northern Oklahoma to evaluate their wheat on a field by field basis.


Plants that look healthy on the exterior could contain damaged wheat heads

Plants that look healthy on the exterior could contain damaged wheat heads

A closeup of the damaged wheat head from the picture above

A closeup of the damaged wheat head from the picture above

Although freeze injury to plant tissue in this field was severe, the wheat heads were mostly left unscathed

Although freeze injury to plant tissue in this field was severe, the wheat heads were mostly left unscathed

A closeup of a head from the freeze-injured wheat shown above. Although tissue damage is severe, the growing point and wheat head are still viable

A closeup of a head from the freeze-injured wheat shown above. Although tissue damage is severe, the growing point and wheat head are still viable

A final note on freeze injury. Freeze injury appeared to be worst in no-till fields and in areas where residue was heaviest. Based on my observations, this was not due to winterkill or poor seed to soil contact. My best explanation is that the lack of soil cover in conventional till fields allowed stored heat to radiate from the soil surface and slightly warm the crop canopy. The insulating effect of residue in no-till fields did not allow radiant heating to occur. Given the pattern of freeze injury in fields with varying degrees of residue across the field, I feel pretty confident in this analysis of what occurred.

Please use the comment section to share pictures or descriptions of wheat in your area.

Greenbug infestations reported

By Tom Royer, OSU Extension Entomologist

I received several reports of treatable greenbug infestations in winter wheat in Major County. This means it is important to scout your fields for greenbugs. I encourage you to use the “Glance n’ Go system, as it is easy to use.

Greenbugs on wheat

Greenbugs on wheat

There are several things that make Glance ‘n Go sampling a desirable way to make such a decision. You only have to “Glance” at a tiller to see if it has greenbugs (no counting greenbug numbers). You can make a decision to treat “on the Go” because you stop sampling once a decision is reached (no set number of samples). Finally, you can account for the activity of the greenbug’s most important natural enemy, Lysiphlebus testaceipes. Aphid Mummies

The Glance ‘n Go system be accessed in two ways. One is to set up an account with the myFields platform: http://myFields.info and sign up for a personal account. This system will allow you to sample a field with a smart phone in the field. To use it, you must have cell phone connectivity. You can then select the Glance n’ Go tool, plug in your cost inputs, and start sampling. Once you sign up, you can scout multiple fields and myFields will keep track of all your sampling information.

Glance-N-Go using the myFields platform

The second way is to access the Cereal Aphids Decision Support Tool on your computer http://entoplp.okstate.edu/gbweb/index3.htm . You can customize the threshold and selecting the Greenbug Calculator. Put your inputs in and it will select a threshold for your field. You can then download a paper Glance n’ Go form; take it to the field and start scouting.

Cereal Aphids Decision Support Tool

Cereal Aphids Decision Support Tool

By answering a few simple questions, you can determine an economic threshold for controlling greenbugs. This threshold is based on the estimated cost of treating the field and the estimated price of wheat. Once a threshold is calculated, you can print a Glance ‘n Go scouting form, take it to a field and record your sampling results. The form will help you to decide if the field needs to be treatment for greenbugs.

When scouting with the Glance ‘n Go system, keep a running count of tillers that have one or more aphid mummies and a running count of tillers that are infested with one or more greenbugs. The Glance ‘n Go form directs you to look at your total number of infested tillers and tillers with mummies after 5 stops. You will be directed to treat, not treat, or continue sampling. If there is enough parasitoid (mummy) activity, you will be directed to stop sampling and DON’T TREAT, even if you have exceeded the treatment threshold for greenbugs! Why? Because research showed that at that level of parasitism, almost all of the healthy-looking greenbugs have been “sentenced to death” and will be ghosts within 3-5 days. If they have received their “sentence” you can save the cost of an unnecessary insecticide application.

aphid mummies

aphid mummies

I accessed the Glance n’ Go tool to determine a “general” threshold that you can use for a Spring infestation, based on a wheat price of $5.50 per bushel and an application cost of either $4, $6, and $8 per acre. You can go directly to the website and download a paper form (Greenbug Spring Infestation) directly. The threshold is 3 greenbugs per tiller if your application costs are $4 per acre or 2 greenbugs per tiller for application costs of $6 or $8 per acre.

Contact your local County Extension Agricultural Educator for more information. If a field needs to be treated, check with Current Report CR-7194, “Management of Insect and Mite Pests in Small Grains”.

Plant growth regulators for wheat

Wheat lodging is not generally a widespread problem in Oklahoma, but it does occur. Lodging occurs due to a variety of factors, and as shown in the figure below, the timing of lodging will determine the final impact on grain yield. Lodging at head emergence, for example, can cause as little as 30 or as much as 80% yield reduction. The numbers in the figure do not account for harvest losses, which can exceed losses associated with lower photosynthetic capacity shown in the figure.


Freeze injury or disease can cause lodging due to stem failure, which is characterized by plant stems breaking near the base. I the absence of weakened stems due to freeze or disease, most lodging in wheat is caused by failure of the root anchorage system (root lodging). Root lodging occurs when the anchorage system of a top-heavy wheat plant is weakened due to moist soil and wind provides sufficient force to overcome the rotational stiffness of the root/soil complex. Research has shown that increasing the soil water content from 17 to 26% reduced the force required for anchorage failure by 33%, and as little as 0.25 inches of water plus 11 mph winds were enough to cause lodging. The thicker the wheat crop and/or the taller the wheat crop, the more force that winds exert on the root anchorage system and the greater the likelihood of lodging.

Severe lodging in an Oklahoma wheat field in 2013

In 2013 and 2014 we evaluated the plant growth regulator trinexapac-ethyl, which is sold under the trade name Palisade®. Palisade is a giberellic acid inhibitor and works primarily by reducing plant height. In our study we evaluated 12 oz/ac of Palisade with and without 4 oz/ac of Tilt (propiconazole) applied at Feekes GS 7 (two nodes visible above the soil surface). We included an untreated check and ALL plots, including the check, received 10.5 oz/ac of Quilt Xcel at Feekes GS 10.5 (heading). We conducted the trial at Stillwater (Irr), Perkins (Irr), and Chickasha (Non-Irr).


I provided 2013 results in a blog post last year, and this post provides an update including our 2014 findings. While application of Palisade resulted in numeric reductions in plant height at Chickasha and Stillwater in 2013, differences among treatments were not statistically significant. In 2014 application of Palisade or Palisade plus Tilt significantly reduced plant height at Chickasha and Perkins.

Wheat plant height as affected by plant growth regulators in 2013

Wheat plant height as affected by plant growth regulators in 2013


Wheat plant height as affected by plant growth regulator in 2014

Wheat plant height as affected by plant growth regulator in 2014

We rated plots for lodging at harvest using a 1 – 10 scale with 0 equaling no lodging and 10 equaling complete lodging.  Application of Palisade plus Tilt reduced lodging over Palisade alone at Chickasha. Application of Palidsade or Palisade plus Tilt resulted in numeric reductions in lodging scores at Stillwater in 2013, but the result were too variable to result in statistical significance. Palisade did not affect lodging at Perkins in 2013. There was no lodging for any site or treatment in 2014.


Lodging as affected by plant growth regulator in 2013. No lodging occurred in 2014 regardless of treatment.

Lodging as affected by plant growth regulator in 2013. No lodging occurred in 2014 regardless of treatment.


Application of Palisade or Palisade plus Tilt increased grain yield at Chickasha and had no effect on grain yield at Stillwater or Perkins in 2013. It is interesting to note that the Palisade treatment increased grain yield at Perkins in 2013 even though the plots lodged at comparable levels as the non treated check. My best hypothesis is that the treated plots lodged later than the non treated plots, as all plots were standing at anthesis (see picture below). Application of Palisade or Palisade plus Tilt increased grain yield at Perkins in 2014 even though there was no lodging. There were no differences in grain yield at Stillwater or Chickasha in 2014. Lodging occurred at Chickasha, but occurred later in the season.

Wheat grain yield as affected by plant growth regulator in 2013

Wheat grain yield as affected by plant growth regulator in 2013

Wheat grain yield as affected by plant growth regulator in 2014

Wheat grain yield as affected by plant growth regulator in 2014


To summarize our work, we found a trend for one to two inch reductions in plant height when Palisade or Palisade plus Tilt were applied, but this did not consistently translate to increased grain yield. Our results are consistent with other wheat plant growth regulator research, which has reported similar variation in response among sites and years.  The literature also shows that reduction in lodging is relative to the straw strength of the variety. That is, a plant growth regulator will not make a lodging prone variety stand like one with excellent straw strength, rather they will make it less prone to lodging relative to the same variety non treated.

Based on current evidence, plant growth regulators in Oklahoma are best kept on acres with high (> 80 bu/ac) yield potential that may have greater propensity for lodging due to variety or fertility.  If these high yield potential acres are being sprayed with a growth regulator at GS 7, the addition of a foliar fungicide might be prudent if it can be included at a relatively low cost. This early-season fungicide application will not, however, substitute for a fungicide application at flag leaf.

Full disclosure: Syngenta donated the product for this trial, but the only funding for the research was provided by the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. We conducted a separate trial evaluating Palisade in drought stress environments that was partially funded by Syngenta. The analysis and recommendations made in this blog post are based on research findings from 2013 and 2014 production years. Recommendations may change as further research is conducted and new information is obtained.