“We plan to develop an accurate forecasting model that will improve growers’ ability to anticipate and take action,” Rush said. “We plan to deploy that model through Extension and educational curricula.”

Wheat streak commonly starts at the edge of a field and then the mite, which is carrying the virus, will move on the wind across the field, he said. When the mite begins feeding on a plant, the virus is transmitted and the plant becomes infected. Once the plant is infected, it takes about a week or two, depending on temperature, for the disease symptoms to appear.

One of the things the AgriLife Research scientists will study is the disease threshold for management purposes.

“We know in March and April that you can tell if wheat streak is in the field and how widespread it might be,” Rush said. “At that time, we can determine if the producer needs to discontinue fertilizing and watering. He may be applying extra if he thinks the field is yellow due to reasons other than wheat streak.”

If it is yellow due to wheat streak, hesaid, it will not get better no matter how much water and fertilizer he adds, so the producer is just wasting money on those inputs.

“Once wheat streak gets going in a field, there’s really nothing a producer can do,” Rush said. “We want to look at management practices that might keep it from getting that bad. We know planting date is a key factor. Planting late breaks the cycle, but in this region, dual-purpose wheat is the norm and leaves fields open to early infestation by the wheat curl mite.”