Is Kansas Winter Wheat Ready?

(Dr. Romulo Lollato) Today, we’re going to evaluate the conditions of Kansas wheat, as far as going into the winter and what’s the likelihood that it’s going to have a successful winter survival. What are some of the things that we need to be looking for? First, we need the crown to be well protected. As you can see here, this is an example of a crop that was planted in mid-October. The crown, right now, is placed at about one-inch below the surface. And this is about what we want; we want the crown very well insulated by the soil. As long as that crown is insulated, that soil is going to protect it from the winter temperatures and is going to increase our likelihood that our crops are going to survive and are going to make it through the winter. Some of the problems we might face is, some of the late planted crops, for example, in south central and southeast Kansas, where planting may have gotten delayed due to too much moisture, the crop is not going to be as well-developed as you’re seeing here. This crop, where we are at, is about the third tiller at this moment, and anywhere from three to five tillers is our ideal situation to go into the winter. It’s enough development that allows the crop to produce all the anti-freeze substances that it needs to make it through the winter. A crop that was planted late for several reasons, either due to double-cropping after soybeans, or because it was delayed due to moisture, or southwest Kansas, where many crops are not planted in time, just didn’t come up, up until now, mid-November, because of lack of moisture. In those situations, the crop will, most likely, be more exposed to the dangers of freezing temperatures. Let’s take a look at some of the crops that were planted late as a double-crop after soybeans. The main difference that you can see here is heavy residue. The wheat has not really emerged at this point or is just starting to emerge, and this is going to delay the whole development of the crop. As you can see in this plant, the wheat has not even started to tiller yet. It’s just now putting the first leaf out; it doesn’t have any tiller out yet, and is definitely not as cold hardy as the crop that we were just visiting a minute ago. Another main difference that we have between these two fields is the root development. The late-planted crop doesn’t have a secondary root system developed yet. It’s still going to take a couple of weeks before it even starts to developing the secondary root system. These things are going to affect winter survival as well. Where I’ll be concerned is southwest Kansas because many fields, although they were planted in time, the crop has not emerged up to this point, and in those situations is where we can really see the crop having some problems making it through the winter.

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