Reporting From the Wheat Field in Pasquotank County

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This webpage will be one place that you can find information about the wheat crop in Pasquotank and around the region.

Image of man in field

Austin Brown, Extension Agent of Camden County, evaluating plots at the 2018 Northeast Ag Expo Small Grains Field Day site with Cherry Hill Farms

March 13, 2019

Wheat in many fields are starting to stand up which is a sign that jointing is close at hand or will be happening very soon. Topdressing of wheat needs to be done as soon as it is dry enough to do so. So here are some things to keep in mind at this point in the growing season:

  • Although situations can vary because of planting date, maturity of the variety, etc., most fields will be jointing from mid-March to the end of March. Topdress nitrogen needs to be put on before jointing, because once the wheat is jointing, the growing point, stem, and premature head will be above ground and will be damaged by the weight of equipment running over it causing the damged stems to either be killed or resulting in delayed maturity of the head. For most fields, heading will be occurring from April 8th until about April 21st.
  • Topdress nitrogen rates are always a topic of discussion.  From the results of the 2018 wheat yield contest, those growers that produced 100 bushels or more per acre used an average total of 147 pounds per acre of nitrogen. From wheat contest entries in the last few years from Pasquotank County, most (although not all) are using at least a total of 120 pounds per acre of nitrogen. 
  • As the weather warms up and wheat gets larger, conditions can become more favorable for foliar diseases such as powdery mildew, Stagonospora nodorum, as well as various rusts. In some states south and west of us, various rusts including stripe rust has been found in the last couple of months. Although nothing has been seen at this time in our region, we need to be scouting for foliar diseases. In 2011, the NE Ag Expo treated 1/2 of each replicate of the wheat variety trial comprised of 37 varieties. Every variety had a positive yield response to the application of a foliar fungicide applied at flag leaf with the increase ranging from 3.7 bushels per acre to 17.9 bushels per acre with the average yield increase being 10.3 bushels per acre. Although foliar fungicides should be used only as needed, many times an application of a foliar fungicide in northeast North Carolina will pay.
  • Also, be on the watch for insect pests such as cereal leaf beetles,  and armyworms, although we can have aphids as well.
  • One thing that we must keep on the radar is fusarium head blight (aka scab). This is a disease that can cause major economic loss even in the presence of decent yields due to the dockage as a result of DON levels (in ppm’s). Although there are several factors that must exist for it to develop into a problem, frequent rains two weeks prior to and during the heading of wheat (when pollination occurs) is very important. There are a number of management decisions (such as variety selection) that can be utilized to minimize the issue, but one tool we can utilize to determine the potential for it to be a problem two weeks prior to and during flowering  is the Fusarium Risk Assessment Tool. This tool can be accessed by using the following link:

If you have questions about any aspect of wheat production, please contact the Pasquotank County Extension Center (252-338-3954).

Paquotank County wheat prior to jointing

Paquotank County wheat prior to jointing

April 23, 2019

Although wheat has been heading for more than a week, much of the wheat will be heading in the next 10 days. Wheat that has newly emerged heads, but has not started flowering (that is showing pollen sacks) is at Feekes Growth Stage 10.5 (click link for information growth stages) . For most wheat foliar fungicides, this is the latest you can apply them (see specifics on labels for products being considered). As for insects, there are a number of fields in the area with significant numbers of aphids and a few fields have been found to have cereal leaf beetles. Foliar disease is not showing up much so far, but powdery mildew has been found in a few fields. Also, the scab model (click link to go to it) is showing in the lower end of Pasquotank, Camden and Currituck at medium level of risk for scab and the lower end of these same counties have some small areas at high level of risk. That means that if you have wheat that is flowering today, the wheat could be at risk for scab infection. I would check fields for stage of development, pest ratings of varieties used to determine susceptibility, and presence of pests so as to know what action to take. If you have any questions, please contact me.