Monday, May 01, 2017

So... About That Wheat.

There are a lot of folks out there saying the wheat crop is finished, and in many cases, they may be right. But here are some things to consider...

Freeze Damage: It looks like lows across SW KS are in the 29+ range. Anything above 32 and you'll be fine. In general, the more advanced the wheat, the more susceptible it is to freeze damage. However, this was not a sudden drop in temperature. The wheat had two full days to get acclimated to the cold, and that does make a difference. I will be surprised if there is a lot of freeze damage to any wheat that has not flowered yet, especially if it is covered in snow...

Stem damage: I am more concerned about stem damage from heavy wet snow. Again, the later the wheat, the worse the damage. It is going to be very hard to tell the extent of the damage on pre-headed-out wheat. Is the stem broken, or just really really bent? Given the right filling conditions, wheat can still make some good grain with a somewhat damaged stem. Now it might all be laying flat on the ground at harvest, but luckily we all got some good practice cutting lodged wheat last summer. 😉

Cosmetic damage. It's gonna look pretty ugly. Luckily, all your neighbors wheat will also look ugly, so it shouldn't be all that embarrassing.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!!

Both freeze damage and stem damage are impossible to fully evaluate right now. Give it a good week, and then start looking. You can probably look in a few days if your wheat was headed out already. Luckily it will take a week for the fields to dry out enough to get back in there...

When you do get out in the fields, look at the heads:

Green and firm=call in a fungicide application (it's gonna need it).

White and smushy=call in the swather.

Both?... I don't know! If it was me, I'd probably take my chances, but I'm an eternal optimist when it comes to wheat. And if you have some magic (and legal) alternate crop that is somehow going to cash flow this year, I'd love to hear about it.

Give me a call or text if you have questions or want a second opinion on a particular field.

Good luck!

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