From the Field: Extent of Freeze Damage is Unknown

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It is too early to tell whether the 2013 Kansas wheat crop has been severely damaged by this week’s freezing temperatures. But the odds are that farmers from about I-70 south will see some harm, based on reports from several Kansas wheat leaders during a conference call on Friday.

Gary Millershaski, KAWG President from Lakin, said temperatures dropped to 22 degrees by noon on Tuesday, then plummeted to a low of 14 degrees over the next two days. Millershaski says form the Arkansas River south, the wheat had matured to jointing…so it’s possible that wheat in the southwest corner of the state has damage. But, Millershaski points out, “the wheat in our area didn’t look too whippy anyway.”

In Stafford County, Randy Fritzemeier says some of the wheat had jointed by the first of the week. The crop had a weather triple whammy hit it: pea-sized hail fell, snow and 20 to 24 degree temperatures. “I can’t imagine all that helped the crop,” said Fritzemeier, who serves as a director on KAWG.

Saline County seems to be the borderline between wheat maturity and freezing temperatures, says Justin Knopf, KAWG director from Salina. “Not much of the wheat has jointed here and if it had, it was right above the soil surface,” he reports. Soil temperatures were fairly warm as the freezing temperatures hit, so that could protect the crop’s growing point. “I think the early-planted wheat could lose some tillers,” Knopf says, but it will be several days before the extent of any freeze damage is known.

Leaders Mike Jordan, Beloit and Brian Linin, Goodland, said the crop in those areas is farther behind the rest of the state, with the growing point not yet above ground. Thus, freezing temperatures should not affect the wheat.

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