Although southeast Kansas has seen its fair share of cold weather the past couple days, most of the region’s wheat crop is expected to be safe.
The National Weather Service in Springfield, Missouri, is predicting a hard freeze for Tuesday night, with low temperatures set for the mid-20s.
According to Kansas State University Ag Extension Agent Jeri Geren, most of Crawford County’s wheat is in the early tillering and jointing development stages. The earlier the stage, the more tolerant the wheat is to cold temperatures.
“If the wheat is still in the tillering stage, then the temperature would need to reach about 12 degrees and be there for at least two hours before we see any damage,” Geren said. “You would have only slight to moderate yield reduction and there may be a bit of a blue look to the field.”
As the wheat heads into the jointing stage, 24 degrees becomes the critical temperature.
“If it stays at 24 for a couple of hours and the wheat is jointing, then we could see moderate to severe yield reduction,” Geren said. “We could see death at the growing point.”
Fortunately, the temperature has generally remained within the 40s and 50s throughout the past two weeks. Sunday’s weather lingered toward that critical point with 28 degrees, but Geren stressed that it would need to hit 24 exactly to cause any significant damage.
“I think it should be OK because wheat is pretty hardy,” said Producers Cooperative Association Agronomist Megan Miller-Gloshen. “It has gotten some nice plant tissue growth on top, but at this point, the growing point is still below the soil surface so it should be just fine.”
No percentage was given, but according to KSU Wildcat Extension Agent Josh Coltrain, wheat across acres is assuredly down in southeast Kansas.
“We definitely got more last year,” Miller-Gloshen said. “Acres seem to continually trend downward, as market prices are so low.”
Aside from the hard freeze Tuesday night, the weather is predicted to stay well above the critical line throughout the week with temperatures generally in the 40s and 50s. Although there is a 50 percent chance of rain and snow for Friday, temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-to-high 30s.
— Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.