If you haven't given much thought to stripe rust this spring, start thinking about it right now.
That is the advice from Dwight Koops, president of Crop Quest, which has its headquarters in Dodge City.
Koops said the company's crop scouts are picking up reports of stripe rust from New Mexico to Kansas as well as the typically infested regions in Texas and Louisiana where the foliar disease over-winters and pops up early in the spring.
"With the recent rains and cooler temperatures, the conditions that stripe rust loves are here," Koops said. "Now is a good time to start scouting fields and if you have a problem, getting treatment done."
Agronomists and plant pathologists warned earlier in the spring that there were rust problems in Texas and Louisiana, which are the traditional sources of rust spores into Kansas, but Koops said reports of rust in New Mexico took him by surprise.
"There's not typically rust problems because the climate there is so dry," he said.
So far, reports are not indicating a major problem with the disease, he said, but that can change almost overnight and stripe rust can be devastating to yields.
Koops said farmers should not rely on variety resistance to stripe rust because new strains are always emerging and some varieties are resistant to one strain but not another.
Many producers this year are reluctant to spend any more money on inputs because of problems with drought and freeze that have already reduced the potential of the crop.
Koops advises against that line of thought.
"It's more about protecting the potential you do have. If you have 20-bushel wheat and you get a disease that takes that potential down to 10 bushels, you've lost a lot more money than spraying would have cost you," he said. "Even with prices at $4, you can't afford to lose those bushels."
Koops also advised that now is not the time to give up on the Kansas wheat crop.
"I tell producers that you don't ever give up on wheat in Kansas. I've seen fields that looked like 10-bushel wheat at this time of year and they made 50. Mid-April is way too soon to give up."
The window of opportunity for spraying fungicide is wide open right now with much of the crop in the flag to boot stage but not yet headed out.
"After heading you start running into harvest interval restrictions," he said. "Now is definitely the time to scout, and if you have a treatable level, get treatment on it."
If you are uncertain of whether or not your crop should be treated, Crop Quest scouts might be able to help, he said.
"The beauty of our network is that we have scouts all over," he said. "They know where there are serious problems and what level of risk you might have to rust to move in after that window of opportunity has closed for treatment. So, if anybody's in doubt, give us a call."
You can get more information at www.CropQuest.com or by calling 620-225-2233.