Thursday, August 18, 2011

Planting considerations Part Two

I got some reaction to yesterday's posting about which varieties one might steer away from planting because of their susceptibility to strip rust infection. The issue of variety selection is often one of that involves several considerations, but if all other things were equal - one would select the top yielding variety for the area that you grow wheat in. In Umatilla County we have long-term average yields that range from 25 bu. to 90+ bu. and our plant breeders have provided a selection of varieties for these different production areas.

When deciding which variety to plant, if for example you are in a high production area, you would probably want to select the highest yielding variety with the highest level of strip rust resistance. So perhaps you would choose Legion over Tubbs06.

This year, we were able to control the stripe rust through timely treatments with fungicides and it turned out to be a good investment. I don't have hard numbers for the acres treated in Umatilla County, but I estimate that 90% of 250,000 acres were treated once, another 40% treated a second time and maybe 25% treated a third time for a total treated acreage of about 387,000.  Treatment costs varied but even with saving the application costs by tank mixing with herbicide treatments in early spring, I estimate fungicide treatments costs growers about $3.6 million in 2011.

These additional production costs were fairly easy to swallow as prices were good and yield potential was higher than average. If these variables change, which they always do, then the choice might be harder to make.

Let me know where you think we should be headed, but long term I think we will need to look at varieties with higher levels of resistance to the current stripe rust races rather than relying on fungicides. Short term I think we are setup for a possible repeat of last fall with early infections of stripe rust, and we should plan accordingly.

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