Recent Freeze Damage in Wheat

(Romulo Lollato) As we know we had a warm winter, so overall the wheat was ahead and is ahead in its development. On average in the state anywhere from two to three weeks ahead of schedule for this time of the year. We have many fields that were jointing last week or even before that, especially south central Kansas where it’s more advanced. The first thing that we looked at is a question of, how cold did it get? On the night of March 19th to 20th when we had our coldest night, several parts of the state, several regions especially on the western third of Kansas were exposed to both 10 hours of temperatures below 24 Fahrenheit. We are using the threshold of 24 Fahrenheit because wheat whenever it’s jointing it’s going to be susceptible to freeze damage if for more than two or three hours temperatures are below 24 Fahrenheit, that’s why we’re using this threshold. Again, the western third of the state was exposed to over ten hours in a row, over ten consecutive hours of minimal temperatures, of temperatures below 24 Fahrenheit. The further east we moved that ration decreased, so most of the central portion of Kansas, where also there is a big concentration of wheat production was exposed to anywhere from zero all the way up to five or eight hours of cold temperatures during that night. Those fields that were advanced especially in south central Kansas that were exposed maybe to as much as 10 hours of cold temperatures, but to three or four hours of temperatures below 24, they might be, the growing points of those primary tillers may be damaged. Wheat is a very plastic plant, it’s going to send out those secondary tillers and if spring weather allows it, it can still have very good yields, even with the loss of the primary tillers. The tendencies that we want to go ahead and check it as soon as possible, but really we might not be able to see the symptoms of a freeze damage at this point. If we give the wheat plant enough time and enough warm temperatures for us to be able to see those symptoms of a possible freeze damage.

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