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Winter wheat growers understand planting a crop in the fall and waiting until the following year to see the fruits of their labor means they have to have tools to address changing conditions—and they are not alone.

Kelly Liberator, a technical marketing manager with BASF, notes that every year wheat farmers face unpredictable weather and disease pressure that can vary from mild to devastating. Her company works with producers to help find solutions.

“Having a plan that can set you up for success is important,” Liberator said.

For example, leaf rust and stripe rust both have been on the minds of growers throughout the High Plains this year. Spring moisture helped to usher those diseases.

Stripe rust and leaf rust both love moisture, Liberator said. A really humid, or wet spring usually is a precursor to more diseases.

Stripe rust likes cooler weather, she said. “When you get warmer than 75 to 80 degrees it may alleviate infections but if night-time temperatures are less than 60 degrees stripe rust infections can persist.”

Leaf rust, prefers warmer conditions, but also feeds off moisture. Stripe rust is very aggressive and gets more attention because of how it can limit yields, the technical marketing manager said.

BASF works with growers to offer them fungicides to protect the crop’s potential, she said.

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Nexicor and Priaxor fungicides have both been proven winners for broad spectrum disease control and also help minimize the impacts of environmental stress, so the crop can handle multiple challenges during the spring growing season, Liberator said.

When the crop is not battling disease, withstands tough environmental conditions, and optimize its growth efficiency, its in a better position to handle any sort of stress.

“Our portfolio can have an advantage even if is not directly controlling a disease,” she said.

BASF is focused on listening to the needs of growers, she says.

The BASF team is engaged with farmers and customizes solutions for them, she said.

One example is the RevX Fields initiative, which offers on-farm research and works closely with producers who want experience with Nexicor, Priaxor and Caramba fungicides on their farms. The program utilizes new technologies and remote sensing and results are all third-party verified and shared with the growers.

“It is a great way to interact with farmers to understand what is happening on their fields and how our portfolio can help them achieve their goals,” she said.

Producers not only want high yields but high quality, too, where they can earn additional profits, Liberator said. Caramba fungicide can help reduce the impact of Fusarium head blight, a fungal disease that reduces wheat quality, and the mycotoxin D.O.N. that it produces. Caramba can also help fight stripe rust and leaf rust if there is concern about the diseases coming on late in the growing season.

She expects a new innovation coming in 2022 from BASF to help contend with Fusarium head blight as well.

A hybrid wheat will be released to increase yield potential in the coming seasons, she said, and shows the commitment BASF is making to the wheat industry by providing an opportunity for long-term success and sustainability for growers.

Liberator said BASF’s commitment also means growers can have confidence in their production plan as the wheat crop encounters changing environmental conditions each year. Disease can fluctuate each year. Some diseases impact yields more than others.

“The BASF Plant Health portfolio provides complete stress management whether it is from disease or the environment to help optimize the efficiency and consistent performance of that crop,” she said. “Not all fungicides are created equally and a lot of products out there only address one of these factors, disease, whereas BASF plant health really does provide that complete solution.”

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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