Weather conditions this spring so far have been conducive to the spread of leaf rust and stripe rust to Kansas wheat fields. Low levels of both leaf diseases have been discovered in various locations throughout the state, even on varieties thought to be resistant to them, according to Erick DeWolf, plant pathologist at Kansas State University.

In response to the threat of leaf and stripe rust in wheat, K-State Research and Extension will host a webinar from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. May 3 for wheat producers, Extension agents, crop consultants and others. Webinar co-sponsors are Kansas Wheat, Syngenta, BASF and Bayer CropScience.

"Educating producers on production practices and environmental factors that affect the crop is critical. With potential new strains of rust invading Kansas, it's important that wheat producers take advantage of the information provided by K-State and the crop protection companies to stay abreast of the situation," said Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of Kansas Wheat. Webinar technology, Gilpin adds, is a means by which producers can gather important information without investing time and money in traveling a long distance. In the future, this medium will be used by Kansas Wheat to disseminate production and policy information.

The May 3 webinar is designed to help anyone interested in wheat production learn about the identification and management of leaf and stripe rust on wheat.

The webinar will include discussion of the identification, management and tolerance of wheat varieties to stripe and leaf rust and information about fungicide options available, said Brian Olson, northwest area agronomist with K-State Research and Extension. There will be time for questions and answers.

Information and online registration is available at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/473120000.

Since April 20, stripe rust has been discovered in research plots near Belleville, Hays and Manhattan, indicating that the disease has been established at low levels in many areas of northern Kansas. Low levels of leaf rust were observed in Reno, Cowley, and Ellis counties; powdery mildew and tan spot were also active in many fields.   

According to De Wolf, the presence of stripe rust, leaf rust, and other diseases will likely hurt yield. The biggest threat may come from stripe rust because variants of this fungus have emerged. These can overcome the resistance of some widely grown cultivars in the state, including Fuller, Santa Fe, Overley, PostRock, Jagalene, and Jagger. All of these varieties should now be considered susceptible to stripe rust. 

 More information about leaf rust and stripe rust is also available in a new K-State Research and Extension publication that can be found online: www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/plant2/mf2919.pdf.