Mild Winter and Early Spring Cause Problems on High Plains

Apr 6, 2016

Wheat stripe rust, shown here, was found in the Prospect Valley area of eastern Colorado late last week. That area was also heavily infested with rust last summer.
Credit Candace Krebs / Ag Journal Online

The mild winter on the High Plains has changed to a dry and windy spring of unusual warmth. And the weather is wreaking havoc in various ways. For example, reports Ag Journal, a huge wildfire flared up across portions of northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas last week. And wheat stripe rust was discovered in eastern Colorado, much earlier than expected. Stripe rust is a disease that can threaten wheat yields.

Colorado State University plant pathologist Kirk Broders says the appearance of stripe rust “represents a significant ‘jump’ for the pathogen to make from southeastern Kansas or Oklahoma all the way to central Colorado.” He adds that “Stripe rust will spread most readily in 50 to 60 degree temperatures especially during wet, rainy weather. Susceptible wheat varieties under irrigation are most at risk.”

Meanwhile, a historic grass fire scorched at least 400,000 acres in Comanche and Barber counties in Kansas and in Woods County, Oklahoma.