Texas High Plains cotton farmers who grow a minimal amount of wheat for grazing or as a cover crop cannot afford to ignore the potential for Karnal bunt infection.

The disease has not been detected in the Southern High Plains, but with infestations identified in the nearby Rolling Plains farmers should realize that potential infection exists.

Texas Extension agronomists Calvin Trostle and Randy Boman, both of the Lubbock Research and Extension Center, say farmers who grow wheat for any reason should be cautious.

In a joint news release, the specialists point out that the potential for Karnal bunt infestation exists whether farmers grow wheat for grain, grazing or a winter cover crop. Farmers also must consider the possibility that at some future time, they may decide to grow wheat for grain.

Also, if a county is quarantined because of Karnal bunt, cattle movements could be restricted.

Specialist say spores may lie dormant for five years or longer if farmers plant infected seed. Karnal bunt can be introduced through wheat planted for cover crops and spores may be spread from tillage tools or other equipment.

The specialists recommend buying seed from a reputable seed dealer as a first preventive measure.

rsmith@primediabusiness.com