Wheat producers in Kansas are worried about the potential for freeze damage after temperatures stayed below freezing for much of the weekend.
While it’s not unusual for Kansas to see spring freezes, the frigid temperatures and blowing wind over the weekend likely caused some damage to the state’s wheat crop.
“I think this year we’re really putting the crop to the test,” said Romulo Lollato, wheat specialist at Kansas State University.
Wheat fields in south-central and southeast Kansas are the most susceptible to freeze damage right now because of where they’re at in development. Lollato suggests producers in those regions evaluate their crops for damage before putting any more money into them.
But freeze damage isn’t even the biggest problem wheat is facing.
“I think the biggest concern as a state right now is definitely the drought,” Lollato said.
Almost the entire state is experiencing drier than normal conditions, with most of southwest Kansas in extreme or exceptional drought.
Lollato said he has seen crops in some fields in southwest Kansas with roots that only go down one to two inches when they should be at least a foot deep at this point.
If May ends up being as hot and dry as expected, already stressed wheat crops may face even greater damage and, ultimately, lower yields.
Brian Grimmett reports on the environment and energy for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.