The need for volunteer wheat control

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

With high wheat prices, producers should pay special attention to every management practice that can increase or protect yields. Controlling volunteer wheat is one such practice.

Volunteer wheat that emerges during the summer and is still present when planted wheat emerges creates numerous problems for the planted wheat crop, primarily:

* Wheat streak mosaic and associated viruses. Volunteer wheat is often infested with wheat curl mite, which serves as a vector for wheat streak mosaic and High Plains Virus. After planted wheat has emerged, the wheat curl mite populations on volunteer wheat can move onto the planted wheat.

* Hessian fly. Hessian fly pupae (or flaxseed) live through the summer on the stubble and crown of the previous season’s wheat crop. The pupae emerge as adults in late summer and early fall, and look for wheat to lay eggs on. If volunteer is close by, the Hessian fly adults will lay eggs on this wheat, thus maintaining their populations in that area and possibly infesting nearby planted wheat with the next generation.

* Barley yellow dwarf. As with the wheat curl mite, greenbugs and bird cherry-oat aphids can infest volunteer during the summer, and move onto planted wheat in the fall. These insects serve as a vector for barley yellow dwarf virus, and spread the disease to nearby fields.

* Russian wheat aphid. This aphid can also infest volunteer wheat during the summer and move onto planted wheat in the fall.

For these reasons, all volunteer wheat should be completely killed within a half-mile of wheat fields at least two weeks before planting. It is important to wait two weeks after the volunteer has died before planting wheat. This will allow for enough time for any insects or mites present on the volunteer wheat to leave the area or die before the new wheat emerges.

Where there is a heavy stand of volunteer, some producers may be tempted to leave it and either graze it out or harvest the grain next summer rather than kill it out and plant a new crop this fall. That’s not a good idea, however. The best option is to control the volunteer, then plant a new crop of wheat two weeks later rather than leave the volunteer for harvest. Producers could gain an extra 20-40 bushels or more of yield by planting a new crop of wheat instead of leaving the volunteer for harvest. Not only that, but they would also help their neighbors out by helping to reduce the chances of wheat streak mosaic, barley yellow dwarf, or Russian wheat aphid on their neighbor’s wheat as well.

What if the volunteer has not come up yet because of dry conditions? In this case, the volunteer may emerge at the same time the planted wheat emerges – after the next good rain event. Volunteer that does not emerge until the time planted wheat emerges, or even later, does not need to be controlled.

If the volunteer emerges shortly before wheat is planted, it’s probably still a good idea to get it controlled and wait two weeks after the volunteer wheat has died before planting – although late-emerging volunteer is less of a threat to harbor pests and diseases than earlier-emerging volunteer. Late-emerging volunteer provides a green bridge for a much shorter period of time.

Where volunteer is present before wheat planting, landowners and producers should do themselves and all their neighbors a favor, and control the volunteer two weeks before the wheat is planted.

For more information, see K-State publication MF-1004, Be a Good Neighbor: Control Your Volunteer, at your local county Extension office or on the web at:

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Pacesetter Grain Hopper

The Pacesetter Gain Hopper features original and innovative ideas like the patented RollerTrap™, the industry’s easiest to open and maintain trap ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form