Wheat in Arkansas is progressing rapidly. The April 20 Arkansas Agriculture Statistics Service Crop report indicated that 14% of the crop had headed compared to 4% last year and 37% for the 5-year average.

Overall the cool weather this spring has delayed development, but I still feel like we are a few days further along this year than we were at this time last year. Some of the earliest wheat in far south Arkansas was heading a week or more ago, while most of the wheat in the south half of the state has headed or is currently heading.

Wheat in the Arkansas River valley, Central and Northeast Arkansas is generally heading or will be heading this week.

Foliar disease levels are generally low statewide, but stripe rust seems to be increasing on susceptible varieties with the recent cool weather. Stripe was prevalent across much of Arkansas in January-February on small wheat even on varieties that were rated as resistant.

As wheat entered jointing stages, adult plant resistance kicked in on varieties that were resistant, and stripe rust slowly disappeared or was minimized without a fungicide application. However susceptible varieties that had stripe rust in the winter now have tremendous levels of stripe rust if they were not treated earlier with a fungicide.

Leaf rust and bacterial streak are also starting to show up in some fields, especially in the south half of the state. Septoria is common across the state, generally low in the canopy. With the rains we have been receiving and wheat flowering or soon to be flowering there is some concern about fusarium head blight (scab).

Yield potential of wheat this year looks variable and the biggest factor it appears is how well the field drained. February through April has been very wet for most of the state and yield in poorly drained fields will likely suffer. Wheat that was fertilized timely and had adequate drainage looks good.

Recent storms have produced hail in some areas, with wheat damage estimated to be 60% or greater in a few isolated fields. Glyphosate drift on wheat appears to be widespread this year and will likely impact yield in many fields.