Josh Lofton and Steve Harrison- LSU AgCenter
Over the last few weeks, the winter wheat crop has gone through the gamut of late winter/early spring conditions. During the week of February 10th, much of the state experienced bitterly cold temperatures as well as snow and ice. This was followed by nearly ideal conditions for the week of the 17th. This week saw producers out in the fields applying at least the first application of spring N, with many producers on the second application. This also resulted in tremendous growth and development for the winter wheat crop. Conditions changed again, however, in the beginning of the follow week (February 24th– 28th), with cooler, wet conditions which slowed growth and development (especially for the northern portions of the state) for much of the week. This last weekend presented great growing conditions, with adequate soil moisture and temperatures in the 70s and 80s for much of the state. Surprisingly, in the last week, the wheat crop has looked better than it has all year. This has resulted in much of the northern portion of the state showing anywhere from 1-3 nodes, while the southern fraction has progressed somewhat further.
Forecasters are calling for much colder conditions over the next several days. For the southern part of the state, this should be of very limited concern as temperature should be right around the freezing point and will not damage wheat. As for the northern part of the state, while there is some concern, limited damage is expected. It is forecast that temperatures in some areas could reach as low as the mid-20s. However, these temperatures are not expected to last for any sustained period of time. As can be seen from the table below (Kansas State University Extension Service), the wheat crop is still in its most resistant stages of development as it pertains to cold stress, with temperatures needing to be less than 24°F for over 2 hours. Overall, with the yield reduction of last season’s late-season freezes still fresh in our minds, it is justified to be concerned of these freezes as wheat begins to come out of dormancy. However, any damage from this week’s freezes should be mostly cosmetic. Additionally, if temperatures are colder or last longer than expected, only the oldest tillers that are the furthest along should be damaged.
For further questions or comments please contact:
Josh Lofton- Field crop agronomy, State wheat specialist, 318-498-1934
Steve Harrison- Wheat breeder, 225-578-1308