As if the 2015 wheat crop didn't have enough enemies, enter stripe rust.
The ugly fungal foliar disease started popping up in fields in mid-April, almost within hours after a change in weather turned conditions from dry and warm to cool and wet.
According to Kansas Wheat, the hardest hit area of the state is mostly the southeast where rains have been the heaviest and fungal diseases are the most common.
However, it is usually head diseases like scab that wheat farmers have to battle, not foliar diseases such as leaf and stripe rust. That may raise issues for farmers in southeast Kansas who don't usually battle foliar issues.
As farmers scout fields and make decisions about what to do, crop protection experts like Greg Hudec, with the Bayer Crop Science Technical Service Team out of Manhattan say keep one thing foremost in mind when stripe rust has already appeared: Use a fungicide that has both triazole and strobulin content.
"All the manufacturers have products with both triazole and strobulurin," he said. "If you already have rust, it is important to seek out those products because you get both a curative and a preventive effect from them. You need to knock out what you already have and prevent what might be coming."
With the 2015 crop varying in ripening stage from flag leaf appearance to fully headed, he said it can be a challenge for farmers to figure the best course of action.
Products such as Bayer's Prosaro can be sprayed through flowering and are useful for protecting against head diseases, he said. Those are familiar to southeast Kansas farmers but they may not be aware that foliar diseases such as stripe rust, which rarely affect them, require more aggressive action.
"If you detect stripe rust, especially ahead of flag leaf, you need to be aggressive about treatment because stripe rust is a very aggressive and destructive disease," he said. "That's why I stress, again, pick a fungicide that has both triazole and stobulin action. Stripe rust can kill leaf tissue rapidly. If you detect it, you need to treat right away."