Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Observations on the Wheat in Kentucky

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky

Bill Bruening, our Small Grain Variety Testing coordinator, visited all of his sites on Monday and Tuesday this week. The following are his comments from around the state.

With the exception of Logan County, there was less freeze damage than I expected.  I found it difficult to make freeze damage ratings because the damaged "empty" heads were green/yellowish; but these often blended in with other healthier heads. The heads were not whitish at all, as had been expected.  During the Easter hard freeze a few years ago, heads that were emerging from the boot turned white. This 2012 crop was much further along and the freeze was not as hard.  Heads that were emerging from boot this time appear to be fine.  The damage was on those heads fully emerged from the boot.  A lot of heads also had partial damage (perhaps related to flowering location on the head at the time of freeze).  I took disease ratings there in Logan County (for Septoria  and BYDV) but there was no other disease pressure.  The barley appeared to be less damaged and looks to be three weeks from harvest.

Wheat at Graves County and Henderson County looks great.  I saw a tiny amount of head scab at Graves County. There is minor freeze damage to wheat at Princeton (Research and Education Center) and Trigg County. This area has been under great moisture stress as of late.  I think it is still early enough in kernel development that the recent rain will help yields (particularly if it cools off a bit).

Hardin County wheat has minor to intermediate damage to early varieties.

I think for the partially damaged fields there will be some yield compensation. I noticed some heads where the middle kernel had died on the entire head, but the side kernels were quite plump.  The tillers may also pick up some of the loss from dead main heads.  I think it will depend on if we have adequate moisture and cooler temperatures to slow seed filling period. Days with high temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees is accelerating the growth too much.

There was no apparent difference in freeze damage between bearded and smooth headed varieties.  Freeze damage was primarily related to stage of development at time of freeze.

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