Mar 27, 2024

Barton Co. wheat crops not impacted by Monday's freeze

Posted Mar 27, 2024 9:00 PM

Great Bend Post

It's called winter wheat for a reason. One of the primary crops in Kansas, winter wheat is planted in the fall, grows slowly throughout the winter, and actually needs some cold weather to go through the vernalization phase before it enters the reproductive phase in the spring and produces seeds. Alicia Boor, agriculture and natural resources agent in the Cottonwood District for K-State Research and Extension, said the snow and ice from Monday should have no impact on this year's crop.

"Right now, our wheat is still in the vegetative state, so it has not done what is called jointing," she said. "When it joints, that means the little seed head that is being formed, it has not started going up that central leaf sheath that would form that stock for the wheat head."

As long as the wheat head is still underground or barely showing, the cold weather should not harm the plant. In the Barton County region, the wheat is still young enough to survive the cold.

"The snow on top of it also provides a nice blanket, so that will protect the wheat," said Boor. "It will keep it a little bit warmer than what our temperatures actually show."

Other plant species are not as fortunate. Those that bloom early likely were impacted by Monday's hard freeze.

"Lilac trees typically bloom very early, and most likely, we've lost all those blooms," Boor said. "Peaches are another one. Peach trees like to bloom early and something like this would knock those out if they're blooming."

Boor said the contrasting weather may also impact trees. With recent spring-like temperatures, sap was running heavy through tree trunks and may have frozen earlier this week.

"A cold snap like this can cause damage to the tree trunk that may show up later this summer or even into next year where you will have damage on the tree trunk," she said. "That's from the sap freezing inside the trunk inside of being down low like it is when it's dormant."

Thin-barked and younger trees are more likely to be impacted by the freeze. Damage to the trunk may exhibit itself as splitting or loss of bark. Boor said giving trees 8-18 inches of water from the trunk to the drip line once every 4-6 weeks can help the trees heal and recover from any freeze-related wounds.