Published on Wednesday, February 7, 2018
While total wheat acres are down this year due to commodity prices, there there are still several thousand acres of Beck’s wheat planted throughout the South.
Unfortunately, that wheat has had a very troubled start this season. During planting, we experienced several weeks of dry weather that slowed emergence and even delayed planting. Then, in early January, we experienced two weather events that brought below normal temperatures (single digits in some areas) for extended periods of time. I have had several concerned farmers call and ask me if these weather events damaged their wheat crop and, true to my agronomist nature, my answer has been, “it depends on several factors.”
First, it’s important to know the growth stage of your wheat crop. Figure 1 below illustrates how to determine the growth stage of your wheat crop throughout the season. Wheat is actually more vulnerable to cold temperatures right after emergence, but once the seedlings begin to add leaves and tillers to the main shoot, it becomes much more hardy.
Figure 2 illustrates wheat’s cold tolerance by growth stage. Most of the wheat planted from mid-October to mid-November should have at least been in the two-leaf stage or Feekes 2. This would have allowed that seedling to withstand air temperatures in the low, single digits for multiple hours. Because the growing point on a wheat seedling is located below ground, there is an added layer of protection to that plant. Snow cover on the ground also adds insulation to protect the plant.
Most of our southern marketing area had several inches of snow on the ground during these cold weather events, so in my opinion, most of the wheat in my territory was not hurt to the point that it will be yield limiting.
Figure 1: Feekes Scale of Wheat Development
Figure 2: Wheat Resistance to Freeze Injury
Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR)® studies have consistently shown a positive return on investment with split applying nitrogen to wheat. You can read more about these studies by clicking the links below.
I think that this practice will pay higher dividends this year than in years past because of the cold weather we’ve experienced. As you can see from the pictures below, there is a great deal of frost injury that is associated with the low temperatures we experienced. Because of the foliar burn and tiller death on our wheat crop, it will important to begin making early nitrogen applications around mid-February to stimulate tiller growth. Ideally, we want to see 70 to100 tillers/sq.ft. to still capture 100 percent of our yield potential.
As always, please contact your local Beck’s representative if you have any questions.
Author: Austin Scott
Categories: Agronomy, Kentucky, Tennessee
Tags: Agronomy Update, Wheat, Austin Scott, Kentucky Agronomy, Tennessee Agronomy, Wheat Freeze Injury, Wheat Feekes Scale, Split Applying Nitrogen on Wheat