Kansas State Research and Extension Crop Production Specialist Jim Shroyer says the repeated hard freezes are taking their toll on the Kansas wheat crop. He says the April 9-10 freeze event was the third freeze episode this spring and caught more of the crop in the jointing and pre-boot stage.
In southwest Kansas, Shroyer says irrigated wheat is probably going to have the most severe freeze injury, and some stands could be mostly or entirely lost. Some of the dryland wheat in southwest Kansas, especially early maturing varieties and wheat in low-lying areas also may lose some tillers -- or have even more severe damage in some cases, he added.
The freezes have caused extensive leaf damage in west-central and northwest Kansas, but some of that wheat is already greening back up, especially where the growing point was still at the soil surface or just slightly above the soil at the time of the freezes, he reported. Where tillers were killed, new tillers are beginning to grow in many cases, he added.
In south-central Kansas, temperatures also got into the mid-20s on April 24. Some wheat had one or two joints at the time of the freeze, and this could cause some tiller loss, Shroyer said. The situation there is a little different than in western Kansas, he added. "Soil moisture conditions are much better in central Kansas than in western Kansas. This will help reduce the severity of freeze damage to some extent, and will help the wheat regrow or continue to develop in the coming weeks," he said. "However, there are reports of freeze damage to the lower stems in that region. If the lower stem damage is severe, the wheat will eventually lodge," he added.
As noted, freeze damage is not the only problem for dryland wheat in western Kansas. "Dry soils and mite damage are limiting the yield potential of dryland wheat in western Kansas as much or more than the freezes. The smaller wheat hasn't been hurt much by the freezes except for leaf burn, but it will need some moisture to produce much grain," said Shroyer.
Wheat futures have not yet seen a full-fledged weather rally on the drought and freeze events due to plentiful supplies of old-crop wheat on the globe and a lack of consistent demand. The market will get a closer look at the HRW wheat crop next week as the Wheat Quality Council begins its tour of the region.