NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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April 9, 2012 Agricultural Column


Wow the wild weather continues but this is a good reminder of our average frost date, May 20th.  We have a tendency to forget the average when we had the last frost.  That date in later May signifies that frost has and does exist average the May 20 time frame maintaining that average.  What will that do to the growing crop is quite certainly a concern.  I heard the weatherman this morning and decided to wear a little heavier coat to work and it certainly felt good once outside.  Now, lets talk about winter wheat.  The winter wheat looks very good to this point and in fact about as good as I have ever seen, but I am sure there are many of you wondering what will happen when the temperatures get into the teens Monday and Tuesday nights.  I will answer your questions by saying it really “depends” as the stage of plant will determine how fast your plant recuperates from a hard freeze.  Monday night or Tuesday morning they are talking lows in the upper teens.  As mentioned the winter wheat looks as good as I have ever seen and with that being said if the growing point is near the soil surface, during the early growing stages, this will usually protect the plant from very low freezing temperatures; however depending on the stage of the plant will depend on the recovery of the plant.  If the plant is in the 1-3 leaf stage recovery should be fairly good however if temperatures persist for a longer period of time or if the plant is more advanced will determine on the injury.  Most damage occurs to leaves, which will likely become twisted and light green to yellow in color and will show a necrotic (“burned”) at the tip within one or two days after freezing.  You might also notice a strong odor of dehydrating vegetation may be present in a few days.  Injury at this stage slows growth and may reduce tiller numbers, but growth of new leaves and tillers usually resumes with warmer temperatures.  Critical temperatures at which damage to winter wheat can occur include 12 degrees F at tillering stage, 24 degrees during jointing to early boot stage, and 28 degrees during late boot to head emergence stages.  At this stage, growth of new leaves and tillers usually resumes when higher temperatures return. Yield reduction may range from slight to moderate.

"I'd remind all producers to carefully evaluate the freeze-injured winter wheat crop before destroying it and planting another crop”.

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