August 29, 2008


The Big Country Wheat Conference held in Abilene on August 19 was well attended with over 180 producers from across the state. The agents in attendance indicated that this was an excellent training; all involved in planning are to be commended. Every producer I talked to said this was an outstanding program. I enjoyed the wide array of presentations made; it increased my knowledge concerning wheat and crop production. The meeting was a great refresher course.

The grain yield information from Concho, Gillespie, McCulloch, Runnels, and Taylor Counties has been summarized and linked here. Wheat variety test results varied greatly due to location and timeliness of the rain.

Other Wheat Variety Test Results that might be of interest to you include:

  • South Texas--including Brady Wheat Test 2007-2008
  • High Plains Wheat Variety Summary 2007-2008
  • Rolling Plains Wheat Variety Test Results 2007-2008

    The recent rains resulted in the germination of a lot of weeds and volunteer wheat seed. To retain the moisture and the firm seedbed for planting purposes, producers may have to apply a herbicide. A 10 to 12 ounce application of Roundup will take care of most of the small plants. However, in some fields the weeds are large and an application of paraquat may be needed. Remember that paraquat is a contact herbicide and adequate carrier and pressure will be needed to get the desired coverage. By eliminating disease and insect hosts, you will have given yourself a better chance of avoiding insect and disease early in the season.

    Some small grain tests that can be conducted include: 1) Effect of planting date and rate on forage and grain production; 2) Determination of forage production in the Fall and in the Spring; 3) Timing and rate of nutrient application; 4) Disease ratings of wheat; 5) Weed control; 6) Note when dormancy breaks in each variety; 7) Pull off date for grazed wheat and its impact on grain yield; 8) Insect ratings; 9) comparison of certified wheat with standard wheat; and 10) Plant height, standability, test weight per bushel, moisture and grain yield.

    Small grain variety testing in 2008
    The best suggestion I can offer to you is to help establish, evaluate and promote the nurseries at Abilene and Brady. Runnels and Concho County will still plan and conduct tests and their committee people may have to get involved in securing seed. When I ask for a bag of seed you would think I was asking the company to cut off their arm. Get a producer that buys 250 bags of seed to ask for a couple of bags for the county test and all of the sudden it is available. You may want to ask Gaylon Morgan or Calvin Trostle for assistance in designing the test to include the best varieties available for this planting season.


    All of the bolls that will make an open boll with quality lint and yield are now on the plant. The bolls will need warm temperatures through September (all 30 days) for boll maturation to occur. Several fields are approaching maturity and will need to be terminated soon. From tests previously conducted with paraquat, an application of the product in the late evening provided the highest level of desiccation. For defoliation purposes the chemical needs to be applied in the middle of the day.

    I would appreciate it if you would estimate the number of cotton samples that will need ginned. Once the total is determined the gin at Lubbock can be booked for either one or two days.

    The ideal temperature for cotton boll development is 95 degrees for the max air temperature of the day and a minimum air temperature of 65 degrees at night. This allows for cotton to develop 24 hours per day. The cotton plant goes into a survival mode once the temperature gets above 95 degrees and that loss of development time is critical to developing bolls. Also, development time is lost when the "cotton boll" temperature is below 60 degrees; development of lint and seed is stopped.

    In the near future you will start to see the impact of the recent rains. One observation will be the increased amount of cotton root rot. There are several fields that have already had 25 percent of the plants die. When temperatures increase across the area the number of acres impacted will be obvious. Another observation will be the increased amount of red and purple in the cotton leaves. This resulted from four days of solid cloud cover. The plant's survival mechanism resulted in the breakdown of chlorophyll in the plant leaves. This will result in reduced efficiency of sunlight and extend the boll maturity period. This is bad news for those bolls set August 10 to 20. You will have to look at the plants closely to see the next problem. That gap in fruit set was not caused by some insect infestation that went undetected. The gap of boll set was due to the cloud cover and carbohydrate stress that resulted. The bolls 1 to 4 days old were aborted by the plant. There is not anything that the producer can do about this. What needs to be watched closely is the plants reaction to the reduced fruitload and the increased amount of soil moisture. If the plant growth is out of control an application of a plant growth retardant may be needed. The sooner it is put on the less of it will be needed to get the job done.

    From October 1 until a freeze may be 60 to 90 days and once the cotton opens, its quality is impacted by environment and insects. Boll development slows as we get into the cooler part of the fall and the potential for freeze increases. Several studies have been conducted that show a benefit from applying Prep (Ethephon) three days before a freeze. The benefit of this 1.33 pint application has resulted in the opening of bolls that remained closed in the untreated plots.

    Grain Sorghum

    The grain sorghum weed control test conducted in Tom Green County provided useful information that will be of interest to your producers. Linked is a copy of the report.

    Pesticide Recertification Training

    On September 8, there will be a training conducted at Abilene for producers needing to obtain a Private Applicators License. For more details and to register for the meeting call Robert Pritz at (325) 672-6048.

    Monthly Calendar


    September 4, District Office, Sheep and Goat Field Day
    September 4, Tom Green County, Retirement Celebration
    September 14-19, Indianapolis Indiana, Galaxy III Conference


    October 5, Albany, New York
    October 7-10, Canada
    October 12, Maine
    October 15, New Hampshire
    October 29, Tom Green County, Arrive back home and start work on To-Do-List.


    Billy E. Warrick, Ph.D.
    Professor and Extension Agronomist
    Texas AgriLife Extension Service
    Texas A&M System