Finally, after what we hope is the last snowstorm of the season, temperatures have warmed and allowed the winter wheat to break dormancy, or in some cases, germinate. In a quick windshield survey on April 26, with a few stops to look closer, and visiting with a few producers, it seems that some of the winter wheat planted into low residue situations is up and can be rowed in south-central South Dakota, while others are more in question.
As temperatures warm over the next few days, wheat that is alive will grow rapidly and allow producers to assess its condition and their stands and make decisions. The general consensus is that winter wheat yields will be down, even with adequate stands, and planting date studies would support that. Late/dormant planted winter wheat, which would be similar to much of the crop this year, has typically yielded 20-30% less than wheat planted at the recommended time in good conditions. The extent of the yield reduction will depend heavily on moisture and temperatures during May and June.
Some producers have reported that spring wheat planted before the recent snow storms have already sprouted and may be farther along than some of the winter wheat. That is also consistent with research comparisons as dormant planted or early planted spring wheat is often ahead of dormant/late-planted winter wheat.
The wheat crop, and other crops for that matter, is also in a tenuous situation regarding soil moisture. Upon probing several fields on April 26, moisture was found down to about 12, below that it was dry. Timely rains will be needed for whatever crop is planted to succeed.
To add insult to injury, stripe rust is reported to continue its development in southern states. Stripe rust was first reported in Oklahoma on April 17, and on April 26 was said to be more common. Leaf rust was also first reported in Oklahoma on April 11, but hasn't developed to the extent of stripe rust.
With the early development of leaf and stripe rust in southern states and the South Dakota wheat crop significantly behind in progress, rusts will have a much longer time period to infect the crop than normal. Producers may be faced with the decision as to applying fungicides or not. One of the important factors in making foliar fungicide application decisions is yield potential. Economic return to foliar fungicides is often measured in bushels, but if a yield increase occurs, it is typically a percentage of yield over an untreated check. The return on a field with 30 Bu/acre yield potential would be expected to be much less than a field with 60 or more Bu/acre potential.
Every field may not have blank spots in them, but a quick survey of fields on April 26 showed a number with less than uniform stands. If that proves to be the case, weed control may be an important issue.
Can you still plant spring wheat? The latest recommended seeding date is about May 10-May 15, moving from south to north. These dates can also be applied to oats. The final planting date for spring wheat and oat crop insurance is May 5 for the south half and May 15 for the north half of South Dakota.