By Bryson Haverkamp
As most of you are aware, this past weekend we seen temperatures dip to the low 20’s for most of the state and even single digits for parts of the state. Both K-State and Oklahoma State have done a good job outlining things to consider when assessing the extent of the freeze and I strongly recommend everyone to go and read those if you already haven’t. Ultimately you will need to take into account not only air temperature but wind speed, soil temp, management practices and everything else when examining each field to determine the freeze significance.
If you know you have jointed wheat, I strongly suggest going out and cutting stems in your fields to assess the growing point. A healthy plant will have a bright white to yellow-green and turgid growing point while a growing point injured by freeze will have an off-white to brown and water soaked appearance to it. According to K-State’s Spring Freeze Injury publication, the growing point is the most sensitive part of the plant in jointed wheat and therefore even wheat that looks perfectly fine from the road can have freeze injury.
The wheat that I scouted around the Hutchinson area on Tuesday, March 22 appeared to be fine at this point in time. 21-24F was the lowest temperature that I heard for this area and wheat with the growing point 1.5 inches above the soil surface was the largest that I could find. There was a bluish cast to some of the wheat fields when examining them from the road but wheat that was jointed had growing points that did not show any signs of freeze injury. A picture of a growing point from Matt Lobmeyer in SW KS appeared to be showing freeze damage with an off-white to yellow color. Air temperatures on the coldest night fell below 12F for over 3 hours and the growing point was 1.5 inches above the ground in this field. Keep in mind that yesterday was only 2-3 days after the lowest temps and the true extent of the freeze damage may not be known until 7-10 days after.
I would like to think that we are early enough in the growing season that if primary tillers are damaged, our secondary tillers that were early enough to avoid the freeze will have time to pick up some of the yield loss given decent growing conditions. However, I think a growing concern for Kansas and Oklahoma is the lack of precipitation across most of the area along with a lush, wheat crop that is anywhere from 3-6 weeks ahead of schedule.
If you have any more questions regarding freeze damage or would like me to stop by to look at some wheat, give me a call, text, or email.