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Wet Weather has Thrown Everything it Has at Carolina Winter Wheat

It would seem that the winter wheat crop in the Carolinas simply can’t catch a break. NC State’s Small Grain Specialist Dr. Randy Weisz says the problems, and the solutions lie with the weather:

“The weather is in an interesting in-between place. The moisture is high enough to promote all of the major diseases and the temperature is in between ideal temperatures for all of our diseases. So its not hot enough to kill mildew and stripe rust, so we still have those advancing. But its not cool enough that head scab and leaf rust won’t develop. At this point all of our major diseases are just thriving. Its adequate for all of them.”

Weisz says the ‘perfect storm’ we’re experiencing this spring when it comes to weather and wheat diseases is pretty rare:

“Its unusual for NC this time of year. Its usually warm enough that powder mildew is being killed by the hot temperatures and stripe rust as well. But this year its not the case.”

In addition to all the other problems in the winter wheat crop, head scab has now shown up according to Weisz:

“Last week, primarily the NC Piedmont, central and southern, was at medium risk for head scab. So if growers had wheat flowering toward the middle to end of last week, or still today, then if they have susceptible varieties to head scab, they might want to consider spraying fungicide. As of today, the northeastern counties are at risk for head scab. So they should be thinking about spraying a special fungicide.”

Weisz has constructed a web page as a one-stop resource for head scab in winter wheat, with all the answers to questions a producer might have:

“Go to  and at the top there is a list of menus, one of them is a video library. One of those is on the head scab disease, what it looks like and how to treat it. There is also a list of the scab smart map tool and a link. It’s a great resource for all of the information you need.”

As far as the prospects of harvesting winter wheat on time, once again, Weisz says it’s all up to the weather:

“It is behind. How much difference that will make in another three weeks will depend on the weather. If it stays cool and wet, we will often have a prolonged grain fill. We have seen on occasion that this weather cause that to happen. This year the wheat is only a week or two behind and if it stays wet then harvest will be a week or two behind as well.”

Dr. Randy Weisz, NC State Small Grain Specialist. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.