Stripe rust has been confirmed in nine Arkansas counties and glyphosate drift damage is appearing in winter wheat, Jason Kelley, wheat and small grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said on April 7.

Stripe rust is a fungal disease that attacks the leaves, cutting down the area for photosynthesis. The fungus can be wind-carried from the south and needs wet leaves to become established. In recent weeks, Arkansas has seen some of both.

The disease has been confirmed in Arkansas, Crawford, Crittenden, Desha, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Lonoke and Phillips counties.

The other issue, herbicide drift, happened a month ago, but the symptoms are just now appearing.

“One of the most common problems for wheat producers this year is not a weed or other pest, but the occurrence of glyphosate drift,” said Bob Scott, weed scientist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “Damage reports first started coming in from the southern counties more than two weeks ago, and as wheat begins to head further north, reports from county agents are coming in like a roll call from south to north.

“I can’t begin to estimate the number of acres affected at this time, from my cell phone it seems like all of them.”

Glyphosate, better known as Roundup, can cause stunting and dead leaves and tillers.

The winter wheat crop in Arkansas was rated 58 percent good and 10 percent excellent, with 28 percent rated fair, according to the National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) report issued April 7. Five percent of the crop has headed, better than last year’s zero percent, but slightly behind the 7 percent five-year average.

Among other crops:

  • Corn planting, at 48 percent, is ahead of the 41 percent five-year average. Twelve percent of the corn crop has emerged.
  • Rice is 7 percent planted, on pace with last year and the five-year average.
  • 14 percent of the sorghum crop is planted, compared to just 1 percent last year and the 8 percent five-year average.
  • Soybeans are the only crop behind the 2010 pace, but just barely, with 1 percent planted this year, compared with 2 percent a year ago.
  • Drought-wracked pasture and range is rated 51 percent fair, 22 percent good and zero percent excellent. Twenty-seven percent is rated poor or very poor.

For more information on crop production, contact your county Extension office or visit www.uaex.edu.