Wheat Freeze Damage Becoming Apparent

Farmers begin making other plans to replace frozen crop.

Published on: Apr 24, 2007

Brookville farmer Joe Kejr looks out over his wheat crop, sees some it turning brown and laying flat and says, "Right now I would say that half of my wheat acres are gone."

Kejr, president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, was one of several KAWG board members from across Kansas weighing in on the status of a once-promising 2007 crop.

The heaviest damage is in a band from north central to south central Kansas, the latter is where Paul Penner farms.

"My evaluation of our wheat fields is we have almost total damage to the main stalks and tillers," says Penner, who is KAWG's vice president.

Bruce Otte, a KAWG director from Moundridge, attended a K-State Research and Extension-sponsored meeting last week in Hesston advising farmers how to assess damage. What did Otte learn? "My first and second (wheat plant) tillers are gone. So, I will have to see what develops," he explains.

Other observations from wheat leaders:

Randy Fritzmeier, Stafford: "My wheat survived the freeze much better than I anticipated. I didn't find any damage to the head of the wheat." Snow-damaged wheat is broken over at the base and won't bounce back, he adds.

Leon Sowers, Murdock: Two inches of snow has caused much of the wheat to lay flat. "On closer inspection, the tillers are broken over about two to three inches above the ground, and stems are now soft and weak. I think we have much more serious damage than previously thought. Time will tell, but it does not look good now."

Wait-and-see

Kansas Wheat Chief Executive Officer Dusti Fritz attended the Research and Extension meeting in Hesston last week.

Most farmers reported that the primary plant was dead and secondary and tertiary tillers were beginning to emerge under the soil.

Fritz says that there still is a chance that the damaged wheat can make grain.

"Our chance for a crop in this severely damaged area weighs on those newly emerging tillers, and weather will play a vital role through the month of June on whether or not they will survive," she says.