Late last week, wheat stripe rust was discovered in eastern Colorado and a huge wildfire flared up across portions of northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, as a mild winter and warm, windy spring continued to impact the region.

Late last week, wheat stripe rust was discovered in eastern Colorado and a huge wildfire flared up across portions of northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, as a mild winter and warm, windy spring continued to impact the region.

“It happened earlier than I expected, but we received our first confirmed report of stripe rust in eastern Colorado,” announced Colorado State University plant pathologist Kirk Broders, shortly after the Ag Journal went to press last week. “We had samples sent in from the Prospect Valley area just northeast of Denver, and we have identified stripe rust on these samples. This represents a significant ‘jump’ for the pathogen to make from southeastern Kansas or Oklahoma all the way to central Colorado. The field was planted with Ripper, which is a highly susceptible variety to stripe rust, so any potential inoculum in the area could have led to these infections.”

“I would advise growers in this area to scout fields for the presence of stripe rust, particularly if you have planted Ripper or another highly susceptible variety,” he said. “Stripe rust will spread most readily in 50 to 60 degree temperatures especially during wet, rainy weather. Susceptible wheat varieties under irrigation are most at risk.”

Windblown spores have the capacity to germinate at night when the temperatures and leaf moisture conditions are right, he said. Spore formation stops when daytime temperatures exceed 80 degrees.

“All treatments are preventive and none are very good at curing stripe rust infections,” he said. “It is very important to apply stripe rust fungicides before the first sign of infection.”

Meanwhile, ranchers across Kansas and Oklahoma have been mobilizing to assist fellow cattlemen in Comanche and Barber counties in Kansas and in Woods County, Oklahoma, after a historic grass fire scorched at least 400,000 acres in that area.

A rollover heifer sale was held March 31 at the Pratt Livestock Auction to raise recovery relief funds. The heifer was donated by KLA president-elect David Clawson, who represents the Clawson Ranch Partnership, headquartered at Plains, Kansas.

In addition, the Kansas Livestock Association and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association are both accepting donations through their charitable foundations to be used to replace hay and rebuild fences in the wake of the Anderson Creek blaze.

Low humidity, high winds and early plant growth are beginning to dry out portions of the High Plains. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions centered on the Oklahoma panhandle, southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado, which extends to the southwest across much of New Mexico and Arizona.