Wheat Journal

March 28, 2009 12:20 PM

More Dough for Bread

Concerns about the price of a loaf of bread rising in conjunction with wheat prices have been stoked by recent media coverage. But national average bakery bread prices have outpaced the five-year increase in wheat prices by 50%, according to U.S. Wheat Associates. The average price of a 1-lb. loaf was 95¢ in 2003, $1.28 in December 2007 and $1.42 in December 2008. While the price per loaf has risen 47¢, however, the price of wheat within the loaf has gone up only 1½¢ since 2003. Overall, comparisons show that the effect of wheat prices on long-term bread prices is minor.

Blight Predictions 

Wheat growers can now predict the risk of Fusarium head blight, or head scab, in their region. Outbreaks of blight are related to specific weather patterns before flowering of the crop begins. Researchers at Penn State University, Ohio State University, Kansas State University, Purdue University, North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University have worked together to develop models that predict greater than 10% field severity. Growers can select an assessment date and choose a model for their specific wheat type and production practices. Weather data is provided by weather stations across each state to help with individual forecasts. The tool, along with additional model details and disease information, can be found at www.wheatscab.psu.edu.  

Control Head Scab and Leaf Diseases with One Application

Head scab and leaf diseases have a new adversary this spring. Prosaro fungicide—a combination of prothioconazole and tebuconazole from Bayer CropScience—has also shown the ability to reduce DON (deoxynivalenol) levels by 50% to 60%.

Randy Myers, Bayer CropScience fungicide portfolio manager, says the combination of two active ingredients results in broader spectrum disease control than U.S. wheat growers have had in the past. The triazole-based fungicide is already a favorite for disease control in European wheat production.

Beyond Fusarium head blight, Prosaro is also labeled for activity on leaf rust, stem rust, tan spot, powdery mildew and septoria leaf and glume blotch.

Myers says that Prosaro's active ingredients penetrate the leaf and are redistributed through the tissues, protecting both upper and lower leaf surfaces. "The infection process is stopped when the pathogen comes in contact with the fungicide,” he says. "The curative action halts the spread of leaf diseases to healthy plant tissue. Its
residual activity protects the leaf from new infections.”

Myers adds that targeting preventive applications for leaf diseases isn't practical because the plant is under attack from various leaf diseases for much of the season. "You really can't get ahead of them,” he says. The critical leaves for yield that must be protected from leaf diseases are the top two leaves, the flag leaf and flag minus one.

"Since cereal fungicides do not move in the phloem, like glyphosate does, the spray solution needs to get to those important leaves. Growers should wait until the flag leaf is emerging or has fully emerged before spraying,” Myers says.

"If you can wait a little longer, spraying when the head is exposed will help protect the photosynthetic capability of the tissues on the head, as well as the upper leaves,” he adds. Severity of disease pressure enters into the decision making. "If pressure from diseases, such as rust, is not too intense, a grower can spray at early flowering and protect his crop from Fusarium head blight and leaf diseases with a single application. That's where the full attributes of Prosaro will be most beneficial.”

For Fusarium head blight (scab) and leaf disease control, the recommended application rate is 6.5 fl. oz. per acre under normal conditions and up to 8.2 fl. oz. per acre under high disease pressure. Research has shown optimal timing for control to be early flowering (Feekes 10.51) for Fusarium head blight.

"Head scab control requires a few mechanical adjustments since wheat heads are vertical,” Myers says. "It's important to stack the odds in favor of the fungicide.” For ground applications that means using flat fan nozzles and medium- to fine-size drops (250 to 300 microns). Myers also recommends positioning nozzles 8" to 10" above grain heads and angling nozzles forward 30° to 45° down from horizontal.

For more information, visit www.cerealexperts.com.

Eye on Winter Wheat

Concern about drought conditions for winter wheat crops is widespread in China, the Middle East and the southern U.S. Plains, according to U.S. Wheat Associates, the industry's market development organization.

Conditions vary in the U.S. The crop is rated 59% good to excellent in Kansas, compared with 42% at this time last year. The winter wheat crop in Texas is rated the worst among the states, with 64% rated poor to very poor. Conditions in Oklahoma are somewhat worse than last year, with 36% of the crop rated poor to very poor. The soft white crops in the Pacific Northwest region are experiencing normal conditions.

In the Middle East, autumn precipitation in Iraq and western Iran improved conditions compared with the past season. Precipitation is below normal for the second consecutive year in Turkey, Syria and eastern Iran. Overall snow cover is lacking, which may result in crop vulnerability to late-season cold.

China's government says the country is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years throughout the central and northern regions. These areas produce 80% of the country's winter wheat. However, dry winter conditions are normal, and the damage should be nominal. Overall, yields are predicted to decline 11.5% and winter wheat production could be reduced by 5%.


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