Source: Purdue University Extension

As farmers wait for their winter wheat crops to awaken from a seasonal slumber, Purdue Extension is equipping them with knowledge to meet potential management challenges.

Two workshops will address pest, fertility and general crop development issues. The 2011 Purdue Wheat Production Day takes place Feb. 28 at Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center near Vincennes and March 1 at the Wells County Community Center at Bluffton. Both workshops run from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EST.

Indiana's estimated 430,000 acres of soft red winter wheat will remain dormant until spring. Once the crop begins growing again farmers will have decisions to make, said Kiersten Wise, Purdue Extension plant pathologist and workshop coordinator.

"A lot of wheat producers in Indiana have been dealing with Fusarium head blight, or scab, the last couple of years," Wise said. "During the workshops we'll talk about managing that disease and tools producers can use to predict if a fungicide application is needed. We'll also cover topics like early fungicide applications: Are they profitable and needed to manage foliar diseases?"

Wheat scab is caused by the fungus Fusarium graminearum. The fungus produces mycotoxins that can be harmful to livestock and humans. Wheat seeds infected with the disease are slow to emerge and result in poor tillers.

The 2011 winter wheat crop was planted in less-than-ideal conditions, which could hurt crop development, Wise said.

"Where I've been most concerned is that a lot of wheat went into the ground in very dry soil," she said. "We saw some poor stands this fall. Hopefully in the spring the crop will green up and fill out nicely."

Speakers and topics are similar at the two workshops. Bill Johnson, Purdue Extension weed scientist, will address "Why Worry About Weeds in Wheat?" Christian Krupke, Purdue Extension entomologist, will present "Wheat Pests: Insect Update."

At the Bluffton workshop, Wise will discuss "The Latest and Greatest in Disease Management for Wheat" and speak on the same topic with Carl Bradley of the University of Illinois at the Vincennes workshop. Shaun Casteel, Purdue Extension agronomist, will talk about "Intentional Management: Understanding Wheat Development" at Bluffton, while fellow Extension agronomist Chuck Mansfield tackles "Growth Stages and Agronomic Issues in Wheat Production" at Vincennes.

Lunch is provided, and those attending the workshops are eligible for Pesticide Applicator Recertification Program credit.

Registration is required. The workshops are free but producers seeking PARP credit will be charged $10. To register for the Vincennes event, contact Stacye Johnson, educator, Purdue Extension Knox County, at 812-882-3509 or johns227@purdue.edu. To register for the Bluffton workshop, contact Bill Horan, educator, Purdue Extension Wells County, at 260-824-6412 or horanw@purdue.edu.

Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center is off U.S. 41 at 4669 N. Purdue Road, Vincennes. The Wells County Community Center is near Indiana 1 at 1240 S. 4-H Road, Bluffton.