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Dryland wheat off to a good start in Eastern Idaho

This article was originally printed in the Capital Press.  Here is a link to John O’Connell’s article.

John O’Connell/Capital PressTwain Hayden plants spring wheat on April 18. Hayden said he has a good stand of winter dryland winter wheat thanks to ample soil moisture in the fall, and soil moisture is again good for spring seeding.

Dryland farmers throughout Eastern Idaho say they’re pleased by the growth and condition of their fall grain crops, which enjoyed strong germination thanks to ample soil moisture, and soil conditions also look good for planting spring grain.

A possible damper on this season’s dryland grain outlook is that certain crop diseases, such as stripe rust, also thrive in the cool, moist conditions that have replenished soil moisture.

In Arbon Valley, dryland farmer Hans Hayden applied humic acid to melt snowdrifts that lingered in his fall wheat fields to reduce the likelihood of snow mold. He had far less winter kill than expected.

“There’s a lot of good dryland winter wheat in the state of Idaho because everybody has got moisture,” Hayden said.

Hayden applied products in the fall to control aphids and protect against barley yellow dwarf, which appears to be widespread this season.

University of Idaho Extension cereals pathologist Juliet Marshall said the recent moisture should help crops infected with barley yellow dwarf outgrow damage, though test weights will still likely be down. She’s also seen rampant stripe rust infections in Brundage soft white winter wheat and recommends growers plant spring wheat varieties with resistance to stripe rust.

Complicating matters for dryland fall wheat growers, Marshall has seen several cases of wheat streak mosaic virus, which is spread by curl mites and is exacerbated by dry and hot conditions that may surface later in the season. Marshall said wheat streak mosaic symptoms are similar to barley yellow dwarf, and she’s seen several wheat samples that have tested positive for both diseases already.

Some good news for fall wheat growers is that May futures prices have rallied recently, with hard red winter contracts out of Kansas City rising a quarter to $5.44 per bushel from April 11 to April 19. Kansas State University Extension agricultural economist Dan O’Brien suspects the rally may be short-lived but attributes the gains to a weakening dollar, rumors of lower stocks in India and an “accumulation of short positions,” involving investors who borrow commodities from a broker to sell on the open market and make a profit by buying it back for less when the price drops.

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John O’Connell/Capital Press
Twain Hayden checks his seeding depth after planting spring wheat on April 18. Hayden said he has a good stand of winter dryland winter wheat thanks to ample soil moisture in the fall, and soil moisture is again good for spring seeding.

John O’Connell/Capital Press Twain Hayden checks his seeding depth after planting spring wheat on April 18. Hayden said he has a good stand of winter dryland winter wheat thanks to ample soil moisture in the fall, and soil moisture is again good for spring seeding.