Wheat streak mosaic, a common disease that occurs in the Texas Panhandle and Great Plains every year, is not easily distinguishable from drought stress, and that could result in wasted inputs by producers.
Charlie Rush, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Amarillo, and his senior research associate, Jacob Price, recently conducted a field day to educate farmers about the impact of wheat streak and other mite-vectored viruses on grain yield.
“We are trying to explain that when plants are infected, they cannot efficiently use the water applied in irrigated situations and they are no longer able to take up nutrients,” Rush said. “We are trying to develop an economic threshold for wheat streak so farmers will know when it is worthwhile for them to try to manage it and get something out of the crop or to make the determination that it is diseased to a point where it is not worth putting on additional inputs.”
Rush said producers sometimes have difficulty differentiating between drought stress and wheat streak mosaic. Because his current AgriLife Research wheat study near Bushland is exhibiting wheat streak symptoms under different irrigation regimes, he utilized them as a teaching grounds for producers interested in learning to identify the virus and its symptoms.
“The wheat streak mosaic virus is transmitted from plant to plant by the microscopic wheat curl mite,” he said. “It doesn’t have wings, but moves across the field by being blown by the wind. This generally makes a gradient of disease severity across the field.”