In 2016, Washington state wheat farmers experienced widespread problems with low Falling Numbers, for which we created our Grain Quality Resources page. The widespread low Falling Number issue was partly due to Late Maturity Alpha-Amylase (LMA) in response to wildly fluctuating temperatures about one month after pollen shedding. The high temperatures in the 90s on May 30 followed by high temperatures in the 60s has some farmers worried that we’re going to see a repeat of last year’s Falling Number fiasco. Such worries are premature because the wheat hasn’t yet reached the point where it is sensitive to fluctuating temperatures.
It is difficult to pinpoint the window of LMA-sensitivity for this year’s crop because it depends on when the wheat reached pollen-shedding, an event that depends on temperature and varies by variety. Wheat in central Washington reached pollen-shedding during the week following Memorial Day, while wheat further east is just starting to head.
Based on this, we guesstimate that wheat in central Washington may become LMA-sensitive during the last two weeks of June, while wheat further to the east may become LMA-sensitive within the first two weeks of July.
Crop residue is a valuable by-product in crop production. Leaving adequate amounts of residue on agriculture fields can effectively control soil erosion and improve soil health. Crop residue can also be used as a feedstock for biofuel, paper, or mushroom production and as feed and bedding for livestock. Estimating how much crop residue your crop… » More ...
Seeding rate is among the many factors that affect grain yield that can be controlled. The ability to control seeding rate allows farmers flexibility in their management practices. For example, when fall seeding is delayed the tillering period is shortened. To compensate for this reduction in fall tillers, farmers can increase seeding rates. To some… » More ...
Consider yourself very lucky if you have not had to deal with mayweed chamomile, a.k.a., dog fennel, in your wheat or pulse crops! Mayweed chamomile is a troublesome weed in small grain and pulse crops throughout the high rainfall zones of the Inland Pacific Northwest. It is an annual that can germinate in the fall… » More ...
If you haven’t already been walking your canola fields, now is the time, particularly after the very wet fall, warm temperatures right up to snow cover, and the extensive period of snow cover that added up to what can be perfect conditions for blackleg. In winter canola, look for lesions on primarily the lower leaves and leaf material that died back during the winter. The center of the lesions will have tiny black specks (pycnidia). Residue from previous canola crops and cover crops containing Brassica species should also be observed. Collect suspicious leaves, stems, and/or residues, and drop off or mail to WSU, UI, or OSU.
If you have been wondering when warmer, late spring-like weather will finally arrive, you are probably not alone. Temperatures in Washington have generally been near or below normal since December. In fact, the 2016/2017 winter season (December to February) was central Washington’s coldest winter since 1984/1985. However, it is important to note that the recent chill in early 2017 is only half of the story. Although the cold 2016/2017 winter and the lack of prolonged springtime warmth so far this year may seem highly unusual, it is not, in a historical sense, as abnormal as one may suspect. Much of the surprise of the early 2017 climate is related to the extreme warmth of the mid-2010s, as well as the suddenness of the pattern shift toward colder conditions that occurred in December 2016. The interval from the spring of 2014 until November 2016 was one of unprecedented warmth for central/eastern Washington. In fact, the temperature anomaly of central Washington’s two-year period from mid-2014 to mid-2016 (+3.9 deg) was almost double that of the now-second warmest (non-overlapping) biennium on record (+2.1 deg; 1990 to 1992).
The 2017 accumulated GDD (Growing Degree Days) total (base temperature 32 degrees F) for Pullman (through April 24) was 747 units, which is somewhat below the 2009-2016 average of 829 units. However, the 2017 value is well below that of recent years (1081 and 1149 units in 2015 and 2016). These numbers are illustrative of the fact that the perceived chill of 2017, though somewhat justified, is partly the result of the stark contrast with the remarkable warmth of the previous two years.
January 1 to April 24 Accumulated Growing Degree Days
Given the volatility of our recent climate, one may reasonably wonder what weather regimes are anticipated for the near future. Seasonal outlooks for later in 2017 suggest modest but appreciable odds that the state’s temperatures will again become generally warmer than normal. Long range weather forecast models and decadal trends show an enhanced probability of above normal temperatures this summer, although abnormally cool waters in parts of the nearby Pacific Ocean act to slightly diminish those chances. There is also a slight tilt toward abnormal dryness, although few clear signals exist regarding potential seasonal precipitation anomalies for the summer of 2017.
El Niño is a critical question mark going forward, and its ultimate strength/presence should significantly influence next winter’s climate pattern. Unlike the weak La Niña conditions during the chilly 2016/2017 winter season, the notable potential for a weak to moderate El Niño augments the likelihood of a relatively warmer and drier winter of 2017/2018. However, despite some indicators such as dynamical forecast models pointing strongly in that direction, other tools including historical analogs are more tempered about the eventual evolution of a robust El Niño event. Therefore, its ultimate development later this year is favored but not yet certain. Regardless of how Washington’s near-term climate patterns unfold, it seems likely that we can expect additional climatic surprises in the coming months and years.
For additional weather data and decision support information, please visit AgWeatherNet’s website. To find weekly weather outlooks for Washington State, please select Outlook from the main page of the website, or visit the current outlook page.
Dr. Xianming Chen, USDA-ARS Research Plant Pathologist in Pullman, and Dr. Mike Flowers, Oregon State University Extension Cereal Specialist, released disease updates (Dr. Chen’s update and Dr. Flower’s update) during the past week.
Not surprisingly, stripe rust has continued to develop on winter wheat across the region and is relatively easy to find. Dr. Flowers reported finding stripe rust at variety testing locations near Dufur and Moro, OR, and in a commercial field near Moro. Dr. Chen reported finding actively sporulating stripe rust during the week of April 5 in over 80% of the approximately 70 fields checked in Adams, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties in WA, and Umatilla County in OR.
Stripe rust was most active near Walla Walla and Pendleton, where many fields have been sprayed with fungicide already. In other areas, rust ranged from 1 to 5% and is less severe than last year at this time due to lower temperatures. The Palouse in Whitman County is an exception, with stripe rust appearing about one month earlier than normal and similar to the severe epidemic years of 2011 and 2016.
Current weather forecasts continue to favor rust infection and spread, raising the potential for another severe stripe rust epidemic year. High-temperature adult-plant resistance (HTAP) has not kicked in yet and won’t become fully effective until nighttime/daytime temperatures are above 50°F/65°F. Going forward, it will be important to continue scouting all winter wheat fields and consider using a fungicide with herbicide application if the variety is moderately susceptible or susceptible (rating 4 or greater in the Seed Buyers Guide) or active stripe rust is found on 2-5% of the plants in a field regardless of variety rating. Continue to monitor sprayed fields throughout the spring, especially near the end of fungicide effectiveness (3 to 4 weeks, depending on the fungicide). For spring wheat, plant the most resistant variety available, preferably those rated 1 to 2.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture is considering rule changes affecting the use of restricted use herbicides. The possible rule changes were agreed upon by a workgroup consisting of various agricultural sector representatives and representatives from WSU. The existing rules covering restricted use pesticides are extensive, complex, and confusing. For example, there are over 50… » More ...
Each spring the Idaho, Oregon and Washington grain commissions publish the Preferred Wheat Varieties brochure. The document ranks current commercial wheat varieties based on their end-use quality and the 2017 edition has just been published! The Preferred Wheat Varieties brochure serves the grain industry by providing customers of Pacific Northwest (PNW) wheat with a ranking… » More ...
Learn more about the discount that cost Eastern Washington wheat farmers at least $30 million and perhaps as much as $140 million in 2016. Episodes 12 & 13 of the Washington Grain Commission-sponsored podcast, Wheat All About It! both address falling numbers. The two podcasts are from a falling numbers panel held during Spokane Ag… » More ...