Louisiana farmers planted 150,000 acres of wheat in fall 2009 compared with 210,000 acres the previous year, Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter Extension agronomist, told farmers and industry representatives at the annual wheat and oat field day held at the AgCenter Macon Ridge Research Station on April 26.

“With the cold, wet weather, wheat has faced stresses,” Twidwell said. “The plants are drying out and have recovered more than I expected.”

Clayton Hollier, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, said the disease of most concern is stripe rust, which is identified by yellowish blisters that line up in stripes along the wheat leaf. Yield loss from stripe rust is more devastating than leaf rust.

“We haven’t seen a lot of leaf rust,” Hollier said. Leaf rust is darker and scattered along the leaf in no particular pattern.

UG99 — Uganda 99 — is a race of stem rust that causes problems in other countries, Hollier said. Stem rust has been in the United States, but not this particular race, he explained.

For more on UG99, see http://deltafarmpress.com/searchresults/?ord=d&terms=UG99.

Hollier asked growers who see any stem rust to take samples and contact him. Stem rust generally appears late in the season, but across the state it really doesn’t cause much of a problem.

Roger Leonard, LSU AgCenter entomologist, said he doesn’t anticipate any huge wheat yield losses from insects, but mentioned Hessian fly as a pest that is very hard to see.

Hessian fly is a mosquito-like fly with reddish eggs and a pupa that looks similar to brown flax seeds, said Fangneng Huang, LSU AgCenter pest management specialist. Larvae under the leaf feed on the stem.

Most weeds can be controlled with the right timing of herbicide applications, Bill Williams, LSU AgCenter weed scientist, reminded growers.

“Develop a strategy,” he said. “We’ve got really good herbicides in wheat.”

Steve Harrison, LSU AgCenter small-grains breeder, led participants on a tour of the state wheat and oat variety trials.

Harrison is instrumental in small grains breeding throughout the Southeast, said David Boethel, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor. “We are proud that he has leading varieties throughout the area.”