Social Links Search




Stop volunteer wheat for better crops

Stop volunteer wheat for better crops

By Scout Nelson

Volunteer wheat—those resilient plants that emerge after harvest—may seem harmless, but their impact on your farm can be significant. Let’s delve into why controlling volunteer wheat matters and how it affects your crop yields and overall profitability.

Soil Water Loss (SWL): Uncontrolled volunteer wheat consumes valuable soil water. On average, three inches of water are lost due to weeds, including volunteer wheat, in wheat stubble.

This translates to a potential 35-bushel decrease in corn or grain sorghum yields the following year. Managing this water loss is critical for sustaining crop productivity.

Wheat Streak Mosaic (WSM) Disease Complex: Volunteer wheat serves as a host for the wheat curl mite, which transmits three viruses—wheat streak mosaic virus, Triticum mosaic virus, and High Plains wheat mosaic virus. These viruses cause the WSM disease complex, leading to yield losses. Controlling volunteer wheat disrupts this disease cycle and protects neighboring fields.

Summer “Green Bridge”: Volunteer wheat acts as a “green bridge” during summer, allowing mites to survive and transmit viruses. The risk is highest when volunteer wheat emerges before harvest, often due to hailstorms shattering wheat seed heads. Effective control minimizes this bridge and reduces virus transmission.

Other Hosts and Risks: Volunteer wheat isn’t the only host. Over-summering hosts like corn or foxtail millet can also harbor mites and viruses. Weedy grasses, such as barnyardgrass and green foxtail, play a role too. Managing these hosts is essential to prevent disease spread.

Impact of Wheat Seeding Time: Early seeding increases the risk of WSM virus infections. Mites and viruses thrive in warm fall conditions. Delayed seeding can mitigate this risk. Understanding the timing is crucial for protecting your crop.

Additional Losses: Beyond viruses, volunteer wheat hosts other pathogens, affecting continuous wheat planting. Hessian flies, moisture loss, and increased weed seed bank are additional concerns. Proper management ensures better yields and healthier fields.

Controlling volunteer wheat isn’t just about tidying up fields—it’s about safeguarding your farm’s future. By managing these resilient plants, you can boost yields, reduce risks, and improve your bottom line.

Photo Credit -istock-ligora

Protect your pastures from pests Protect your pastures from pests
Nebraska crop update June 23, 2024 Nebraska crop update June 23, 2024

Categories: Nebraska, Crops, Wheat

Subscribe to newsletters

Crop News

Rural Lifestyle News

Livestock News

General News

Government & Policy News

National News

Back To Top