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California wheat: 2007 review, stripe rust virus prevention

Wheat plantings in California in 2007 increased 23 percent over 2006, according to the 2007 California Wheat Variety Survey published by the California Wheat Commission.

The total planted acreage was estimated at 608,000 acres in 2007, compared to 495,300 acres in 2006.

White, red, and durum wheat classes all showed increased plantings of 19 percent, 22 percent, and 35 percent, survey results indicated. Higher prices at planting were partly why acreage increased.

Hard red wheat remained the major wheat class followed by Blanca Grande, the most commonly planted wheat variety. It is a hard white wheat variety planted predominately in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV).

About 24 percent of all non-durum wheat planted in the state was Blanca Grande. The second largest variety planted was PR 1404, a hay/forage red wheat variety. Summit was a close third with approximately 79,000 acres planted.

In Desert Durum, the top two planted varieties in the Imperial Valley included Kronos and Orita. Other major varieties included the newer cultivars Desert King and Havasu.

In the SJV, Platinum led the way in Desert Durum for the second year in a row with the vast majority of planted acreage, or about 21,000 acres. The second largest planted variety was the new RSI 64.

Management tools

Speaking to growers in mid-September in Parlier, Calif., Steve Wright, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Tulare and Kings counties, provided valuable information on stripe rust and its impact on wheat and barley.

“While 2006 was an especially bad year for stripe rust, little was found in 2007 wheat and barley,” Wright noted. “Last season was tremendous with really no disease to speak of except some traces of stripe rust that came in late in the growing season.” Wright said.

A perfect year would have included more water for irrigation, he said. Growers with more water produced some tremendous yields. Stripe rust management is now the basis for choosing varieties, Wright noted.

For 2008, based on a statewide research variety testing program coordinated by Lee Jackson, UC Extension specialist, the following are recommended resistant varieties of wheat or tricale: Cal Rojo, PR 1404, Trical 105 and 118, Patwin, Expesso, Blanca Fuerte, Blanca Royale, Ultra, and Mica. Moderately resistant varieties include Joaquin, Triple IV, Platinum, Dash 12, plus Trical 116 and 98.

To draw a line in the sand against the impact of stripe rust, Wright offered these management suggestions:

  • Select resistant or moderate-resistant varieties.

  • Diversify plantings - plant more than one variety or specie on the ranch in case new races of stripe rust pathogen show up.

  • Monitor your crop carefully during the growing season to detect the first infections early enough to plan for effective fungicide applications. Initial infections in California's Central Valley can occur as early as January or as late as April.

  • Pay attention to stripe rust reports in other areas.

  • Spores are wind-borne with dissemination possible over hundreds of miles to cause infection. The California Wheat Commission's Weekly Bulletin is a good source of this type of information.

  • Monitor weather conditions. Cool, wet conditions (50 to 60 degrees with intermittent rain, fog, or dew) are most favorable for infection, spore production, and dispersal.

  • Races of the stripe rust pathogen can cause disease at higher temperatures and drier conditions than in the past.

  • Apply fungicide before full heading and flowering. A trigger-point for fungicide application for effective disease control under conducive weather conditions is when 10 percent of plants show symptoms of infection or when ‘hot spots’ of disease are detected in the field.

According to Wright, four effective fungicides for wheat grain include:

  • Stratego (Bayer) - No later than Feekes 8 before head emergence. 10 oz. - Not for silage or hay.

  • Tilt (Syngenta) - No later than Feekes 8 (flag-leaf completely emerged) 4 oz. - not for silage or hay.

  • Quadris (Syngenta) - No later than Feekes 10.5 - not for silage.

Quilt (Syngenta) - No later than 10.5, 10.5 to 14 oz. - not for silage.

The Feekes scale measures wheat growth stages.

For small grain silage, Wright suggested the use of Headline (BASF), no later than Feekes 10.5 (full heading, beginning of flowering), 6-9 oz.

Two websites with information on stripe rust resistant and moderately resistant varieties include: and

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