Issue No. 2, Article 8/April 7, 2006
Wheat Conditions Improve
While there are some Illinois wheat fields, mostly in the southern part of the state, that have gotten enough rain in recent weeks to have some water standing, the crop has generally survived the weather vagaries of the winter and early spring and is starting to grow nicely. Some stands look a little "lumpy" due to uneven growth and perhaps some low plant counts, but tillering should be nearly complete in the southern half of the state, and crop color should improve with some sunshine and moderate temperatures over the next week. Some tillers typically will not produce heads, but there should be at least 60 to 70 tillers per square foot by the time the crop reaches jointing, at which point formation of new tillers stops. Jointing is the stage at which nodes start to elongate, leading to the rapid increase in height.
The crop is on a typical pace of development in most areas. If nitrogen has not yet been applied in some northern areas, it is time to get that done. It's late to apply N in the southern half of the state, but if crop color and tiller numbers are good, applying N now should result in little yield loss. The appearance of yellow, stunted patches might signal the presence of barley yellow dwarf virus. There is no cure for plants once infected, and while control of aphids can prevent further spread, they will almost certainly have spread the disease to other places in the field by the time they are controlled.--Emerson Nafziger