Kansas wheat crop faces new threat

by Josh Sosland
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 Kansas Wheat has identified another significant threat to the 2017 Kansas wheat crop.
 

MANHATTAN, KAS. — Not long after sounding a warning call about damaging frigid spring weather, Kansas Wheat has identified another significant threat to the 2017 Kansas wheat crop — wheat streak mosaic virus.

Alerting growers to take steps to manage the risk posed by W.S.M.V. (no chemical treatments exist), Kansas Wheat said the disease is “crippling western Kansas wheat crop.”

The organization, a cooperative effort of the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, said losses from W.S.M.V. vary depending on variety, weather, percentage of crop infected and the timing of infection. When the disease strikes in the fall, yield losses often are 50% or more. Spring infection tends to cause losses closer to 20%.

Citing Kansas State University Research and Extension Agronomy, Kansas Wheat said six west-central Kansas counties are indicating widespread incidence of W.S.M.V. and related viruses — High Plains mosaic and triticum mosaic. The counties are Greeley, Wichita, Lane, Hamilton, Kearny and Finney. The effects of the disease also were seen by participants in the Wheat Quality Council's Kansas wheat tour.

“Many fields in this area are severely diseased and could experience more than 70% yield loss, if not a complete loss,” the Wheat Commission said. “The rest of western Kansas is dealing with high distributions of these diseases while the central region is also seeing high and moderate infection levels.”

Asked by Milling & Baking News about the degree to which the W.S.M.V. losses already have been incorporated into the U.S.D.A. forecast, Justin Gilpin, Kansas Wheat chief executive officer, said damage may not yet be fully reflected.

“It is factored in to a certain extent, but due to the widespread severity, it is difficult for them to take it all in account because there isn’t a year to compare it to,” Mr. Gilpin said. “It seems to be getting worse by the day, and we anticipate the weekly condition reports to continue to reflect that.

“Also, what’s challenging about viruses is fields can be affected even if it isn’t visibly showing symptoms that aren’t realized until combines get into the fields.”

Kansas Wheat said controlling volunteer wheat and avoiding early planting are two ways to reduce the risk of W.S.M.V.
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