North Texas wheat farmers should scout fields carefully now to detect ryegrass infestations, warns Texas A&M-Commerce agronomist Don Reid and Extension Integrated Pest Management specialist Jim Swart.

“We have seen unusually heavy ryegrass infestations in many early-planted wheat fields,” Reid says. “Growers should scout all fields planted before the heavy October rains.”

Treatment options are limited to Hoelon, the only product available for postemergence ryegrass control. Application rates range from one and a third pints to two and two thirds pints per acre, depending on the size of the ryegrass. Hoelon is labeled to control ryegrass plants that range from two leaves to two tillers in size.

Early-planted wheat will amount to 10 percent or less of the wheat planted in the region this year, Reid says.

Most of the area's wheat was planted following the rainy period.

“Some growers were able to start on the better-drained soils in the second week of November,” Swart says, “but most was planted from mid-to-late November. Most wheat was planted in dry soil, and did not begin to germinate until it rained (around Dec. 1).

“Most of the existing ryegrass in these fields was destroyed by tillage prior to planting the wheat. But, since some ryegrass plants may still be emerging over this unusually warm period, growers might want to want to check the later-planted fields around mid January.

“Research has shown that ryegrass does not germinate in cold soils, so we do not anticipate that as many of the later planted fields will need to be sprayed with Hoelon,” Reid says.