Extent of Wheat Damage by Weekend's Snap Freeze Uncertain as Growers Left to Wait and SeeMon, 09 Apr 2018 12:38:56 CDT
Oklahoma State University’s Plant and Soil Science Department broadcast the second episode in a new webinar series, on Monday, giving wheat producers in the state real time updates, information and advice on how to manage their crops over the next few weeks during a particularly challenging and integral stage in the growing season. This week, there was much concern expressed on the heels of a very cold weekend here in Oklahoma. Those experts featured on the webinar this time, addressed producers’ questions pertaining to the extent at which cold temperatures that dropped well-below freezing, potentially damaged their crops. You can listen to an audio summary of the webinar this week, with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of this story.
Heath Sanders, OSU’s southwest area agronomist, talked about the amount of time during which wheat in Oklahoma was exposed to below freezing temperatures - stating that his concern is more focused on how much time was spent in freezing temperatures, rather than the temperature itself.
Sanders reports that temperatures across the state fell as low as 21 degrees Fahrenheit in some places. With drought conditions spanning the western half of the state, he says wheat in those areas were exposed to the worst conditions of a dry freeze, compared to wheat that had a bit of moisture to buffer the freeze damage. Most wheat in the west is at boot or pre-boot with the head in the stem of mostly very short wheat ranging from 6 to 10 inches in height. He shrugs though that while many questions have arisen from this situation, not much can be determined for the next week to ten days as right now it has become a “wait and see situation,” regarding the extent of the damage. He worries, too, that temperatures this week will be too harsh for crops, as they reach up into the 80s and 90s towards the end of this week. This is worrisome given the water demand of wheat at this critical stage of development.
OSU Small Grains Specialist Dr. Dave Marburger agrees with Sanders, adding that many factors will play into the actual potential for damage to the crop. Unfortunately, though, he concurs it will take some time to see whatever damage that was caused manifest itslef. He hopes at this point most of it will be cosmetic, resulting in leaf tip burning, but in southern parts of the state, he says he would not be surprised to see some isolated cases of dead tillers.
Right now, Marburger says the thing to focus on is a timely rain that could hydrate overly stressed plants and possibly help to salvage some fields’ yield potential before jointing comes and goes.
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