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Have a treatment plan in place to address stripe rust in winter wheat before it comes to your field.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

April 27, 2022

3 Min Read
stripe rust on wheat leaf
STRIPE RUST: Farmers need to have a treatment plan in place to protect their winter wheat before stripe rust lands in their fields. Courtesy of Michigan State University ANR Communications

Reports of stripe rust in wheat are as reliable as the wind in Kansas.

Some years stripe rust scouting reports are more prevalent than others, to be sure. But in a year like this one, when wheat prices are higher than they’ve been in some farmers’ lifetimes, giving your crop protection it needs against stripe rust may make all the difference.

An advantage

The 2022 Kansas wheat crop has a lot going against it this year. The Kansas Mesonet released its weekly drought update April 23, and the western three-quarters of the state is in extreme and severe drought. The April 25 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service crop progress report showed 49% of the Kansas wheat crop is jointed, and 74% of the crop is rated very poor to fair condition.

As of April 21, Kansas State University reports that dry conditions in the state have resulted in below-average disease pressure in most scouted locations in Kansas. With reports of low rust pressure in Oklahoma and Texas, the dry conditions may have been suppressing disease development, according to K-State.

However, all it takes for stripe rust to develop are periods of cool, wet weather and periods of time where the canopy is wet. And, according to K-State, that’s only been reported in eastern parts of the state. Stripe rust can reduce yields by as much as 40% — and in a time of incredible wheat demand, it may make sense to consider preventative measures this year.

Scout often

Jeff Ellis is an agronomic service representative for central and eastern Kansas with Syngenta. He says wheat growers should already be scouting their fields through the critical spring months. While there haven’t been many reports of stripe rust in Southern states to date, all it takes is the right conditions for the spores to blow in from the south and create troubles, especially if those spores are from stripe rust strains that have adapted to warmer conditions.

We could get a little further into the season, and if those spores infect a wheat field at low levels, the right weather could cause the disease to blow up and affect wheat yields. By that time, it would be long after a farmer can get in to treat the crop. That’s why Ellis recommends growers consider a prophylactic treatment of fungicide now, to protect the wheat crop tomorrow.

Don’t wait to use fungicide

“Don’t wait until you see it to treat,” Ellis says. “By the time you’ve seen it, it’s already been in the plant seven to 10 days.” The point of applying fungicide is to give it time to work in the plant and lessen the rust’s impact on the leaf’s surface. Protecting the flag leaf means protecting the wheat plant’s photosynthesis capabilities, which in turn creates more energy to be used in grain development.

Trivapro is a Syngenta product that has preventive and curative control of rusts, leaf spots and blights, according to the company. Ellis says it works on stripe rust in wheat, or southern rust in corn, and offers a good residual package. That residual package is what farmers might need later in the season if stripe rust takes hold.



About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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