Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's a Bird ... It's a Plane!

I have a heads' up for you on the 2013 wheat crop.

Really, the heads are up.

That's not the only thing that was up this weekend. So was a cropduster, who sprayed our wheat fields with fungicide Sunday morning. We were on our way to church, so I didn't have time to stay and watch for very long. The pilot probably didn't need an audience anyway.
It would not be an occupation for me. I like a little more space between the plane and the ground, thank you very much.
The pilot was applying Tilt, a fungicide, to our wheat crop. Usually, we have the Kanza Co-op apply it with a ground rig, but this year, the ground was too wet because of our recent rains (another 0.70 inch total last week on top of 1.60 inch the week before. Just so you don't get the wrong impression, we are most definitely NOT complaining about the moisture!). The co-op contracted with a cropduster to make aerial applications.

The fungicide provides good protection against leaf rust and stripe rust, which decrease yield. It's a preventative measure - applied before there's a problem - rather than a curative application.
In several years of field trials at Kansas State University, the application of fungicides between the flag leaf and flowering stages of wheat development resulted in a yield boost of 4 to 14 percent.

It's kind of a calculated risk: Will the cost of the fungicide pay off with a better crop? Only time will tell. After some calculations, Randy thinks if the fungicide saves 2 bushels of wheat per acre, it will pay for itself.
A foliar fungicide application will not make a 40-bushel crop into a 60-bushel crop, but it will prevent a 60-bushel crop from being reduced to a 40-bushel crop by foliar disease.
Bob Hunger, an Oklahoma State University wheat disease specialist,
and Jeff Edwards, an OSU Extension wheat specialist
So, is your bag of flour safe after farmers spray fungicide on the developing crop? Yes, as long as farmers follow the restrictions on when to apply it and how long after the application the crop is harvested.

Believe me, farmers and their families want a safe and affordable food supply, too. We buy bags of flour at the store. We buy that loaf of wheat bread and feed it to our families.
There is still a lot of time - and uncertainty - between now and harvest. We've probably already had some yield loss from freeze damage. Weather, hail and disease could conspire against us, too. But, as usual, my farmer is a glass-half-full kind of guy. So, he's betting that the investment will pay off.

(For larger photos of the cropduster, click on the photos.)


  1. Kim:
    This is what Mandy's husband does with his Dad out of Minneapolis. I agree with your space issue, but Shane loves it!
    Lori Furgason

    1. I'm glad there are people who want to do it, but it definitely wouldn't be for me!

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