Winter wheat is one of the major field crops grown in Nebraska. In 2009, winter wheat was harvested from 1.6 million acres in the state and total yield was 78.2 million bushels. In 2008 winter wheat was harvested from 1.7 million acres with a total yeild of 73.4million bushels valued at $492.3 million In the United States, Nebraska was the No. 6 leading producer of winter wheat in 2009, behind Kansas, Washington, Colorado, Montana, and Oklahoma. Winter wheat is produced mainly in the western part of Nebraska. However, over the last several years, acreage in the south central and eastern parts of the state has increased.
Diseases are a major cause of yield loss in winter wheat. Environmental conditions in Nebraska vary considerably because elevation increases and rainfall decreases from east to west. In addition, approximately 5% of winter wheat production in the state occurs under irrigation. This variation in environmental conditions has a major influence on the prevalence and incidence of specific wheat diseases across the state.
The most damaging disease of winter wheat in Nebraska is wheat streak mosaic, caused by wheat streak mosaic virus. Although this disease has occurred predominantly in the western part of the state, it has caused damage in the south central and eastern parts as well. Other diseases commonly observed on winter wheat in the state are leaf rust, various leaf spots including tan spot and Septoria leaf and glume blotch, and loose smut. Stripe rust and common bunt occur sporadically. Diseases not commonly seen, but which occurred in 2007 due to a highly favorable environment include barley yellow dwarf, caused by barley yellow dwarf virus, and Fusarium head blight or scab.