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Effects of Drought Go Beyond Damaged Crops

Effects of Drought Go Beyond Damaged Crops
What happened this summer may affect decisions you make for next year.

The effects of this summer's drought on other things, what you might call unintended consequences, will form a long list. An agronomist has just added another one to the list for farmers to think about before they make decisions this fall that could impact next year's cropping season.

There is still considerable apprehension that molds may show up in corn before harvest, particularly the Aspergillus fungus that produces mycotoxins, including aflatoxin. It's the olive-colored mold sprinkled on ears, often at the base of the ear, when you pull back the shucks. However, there could also be other molds on corn this fall, both on the ear or in the stalks. One of those is gibberella stalk rot.

KEY POINT: Mark Lawson cautions farmers who might plant wheat after corn this fall to be aware of the possible link between gibberella ear and stalk rot and head scab in wheat next spring.

If you grow wheat and if you intend to grow wheat after corn, that could be an issue. Farmers in southern Indiana often follow corn with wheat. It may be tempting in other areas of the state if the corn comes out early. In some cases farmers may opt to harvest corn and get it out of the field, at least part of the crop, before they harvest soybeans. That would open up former corn acres for planting wheat.

Mark Lawson, agronomist for Syngenta, Danville, says that the problem is planting wheat after corn could open up problems for disease in wheat next spring and summer as the wheat develops and flowers. That's because the organism that causes wheat scab is the same one that causes gibberella stalk rot and gib ear mold in corn. If the Gibberella organism is present in the field where you plant wheat, it increases the odds for infection next spring.

What finally happens in terms of disease in any crop, including wheat, depends upon weather conditions during the critical flowering period. For wheat this is often in May. But the fact that a known source of the disease is out there is cause for concern. If you're planting wheat and you have corn with stalk rot, consumer switching to planting after soybeans. Or work with your seedsman to select a wheat variety with the best rating on head scab.

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