Winter wheat may get some relief
Frost may have hurt crop, but rain forecast this afternoon
A freeze of -6 degrees Nov. 11 and another cold night Nov. 12 may have caused damage to sprouting wheat in some fields in the county.
Jeff Naysmith, agronomist with Cooperative Grain and Supply, said the potential for damage exists, but it’s too early to tell.
Depending on when it was planted, the county’s wheat is in three stages: well established, just coming up, or lying in dry soil and waiting for moisture to germinate and emerge.
Naysmith said the biggest potential for damage is with the short wheat that has barely emerged.
“We know from the past that when wheat appears to be damaged, it comes out of it and does fine,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
Michael Dietz, agronomist with Agri-Trails Coop, said the cold slowed down the growth of the budding crop.
“If it warms back up, it will start to grow again,” he said.
The taller wheat has better root development, and with subsoil moisture, it isn’t in danger of winterkill, Dietz said.
As for the wheat that hasn’t yet emerged, Dietz said some wheat didn’t emerge until spring last year, and it still made 40 bushels per acre.
“With a little more warmth, a little more moisture, and a little more growth before winter, the wheat should be good,” he said.
Farmer Kevin Suderman of Hillsboro wasn’t too concerned about his wheat, yet.
“There could be some damage, but it’s early in the season and a lot of other things can happen,” he said.
He was more concerned about the lack of moisture heading into winter.
Monty Stuchlik of Lost Springs said his sons Ross and Daniel were told by a local agronomist that some winterkill has been seen in the area. He said it might be best for the wheat seed to be covered until it receives moisture.
“It would be nice to get a half-inch of rain to get the seed started,” he said.
The two are set to get their wish late this afternoon as thunderstorms arrive in the area, said Eric Schminke, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Wichita.
“The chances of rain and showers are 60 to 70 percent,” he said. “That’s significant.”
He said the county could get an average of 1/10 an inch of precipitation.
“It won’t be heavy by any means, but it should dampen up the grounds considerably,” Schminke said.
Rain chances diminish by Thursday evening as temperatures are set to drop into the mid-40s and 50s.
Around midnight the rains are expected to change into snowfall – but don’t expect any accumulation that could blanket an emerging crop.
“Do not expect any major ramifications from this light snow,” he said. “We have been quite warm these last couple of days. This will keep surface temperatures warm enough to keep the snow from accumulating.”
Last modified Nov. 20, 2019