This year’s abnormally warm spring has allowed for Mother Nature to speed up the spring development of the landscape. Trees and flowers bloomed early and insects got off to a jump start on their life cycles. With these early developments taking place in nature, farmers were close to follow getting crops in the ground at an incredible pace and well ahead of the norm. Overall things have gone well and farmers have been catching the warm weather they had hoped for resulting in good emergence. However I have noticed corn imbibition in some fields causing minor stand losses of 1-4%. Imbibition is caused by warm soil temperatures which germinate the seed, but a cold snap keeps the above ground temperatures cool enough to cause the emerging seedling to start growing downward to warmer soil temps. After a few of these cool/warm cycles on emerging seed, a corn plant can look like a twisted up knot (see image below). In some cases many of the seeds will germinate and outgrow these imbibition symptoms allowing for a few seeds with less vigor to meet their eventual fate, minor imbibition in a field typically does not affect yields.
Warmer than average temperature has also caused wheat to jump out to an unbelievable start. Wheat has been headed out for weeks in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Many farmers are talking about harvest being 3 to 4 weeks ahead of schedule with moisture to spare. This outlook for a very early harvest is increasing demand on soybeans for double cropping behind their wheat, harvest may even be so early soybeans planted are almost a second crop. While observing the phenomenal growth in wheat, I have noticed some Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus (WSMV) in Kansas. Most commonly the WSMV infects wheat in early spring by feeding pressure from aphids which carries the virus in their saliva. Wheat that is infected in the spring typically does not severely affect yields. Unfortunately, fall infected wheat fields can have a drastic reduction in yield; this is commonly caused by WSMV transmission during the fall when wheat is emerging. The best way to steer clear of WSMV is to plant varieties strongly resistant to infection from the virus.