Freeze damage to the Kansas wheat crop is becoming clearer as warmer weather gets wheat growing across the area.
An Extension wheat test plot just south of St. John features 24 varieties of wheat. A recent tour revealed several types of damage from freeze, sleet and hail damage, said Pratt County Extension Agent Mark Ploger.
Half the varieties were examined and the flag leaf was dead in some varieties. A lot of leaf damage from the freeze, sleet and hail was showing up as well. The damage looks similar to mosaic
Plant damage was expected after the unusually cold weather in April but that same cold weather has prevented wheat growth that is necessary to reveal weather damage.
While the plants look good on the outside, once the interior is exposed the damage becomes obvious.
However, wheat is well known to work hard to make a crop, Ploger said.
Some plants are already showing signs of new tillers or stems. The weather is also cooperating, for now.
With the amount of damage showing up now, the wheat plants need cool temperatures and moisture to recover and that is just what they are getting right now.
If the current weather pattern continues, the wheat will have a better shot at producing a crop. But if it turns warm or hot, like is has done the last three years, it will reduce the chance of wheat recovery.
"It's kind of a 50-50 shot. It's just kind of a wait and see situation," Ploger said. "Some wheat will respond because wheat will do everything it can to stay alive."
If the cool, moist conditions continue, farmers will need to be alert for rust. So far no rust has been reported in Pratt County but some has been reported in southeast Kansas and in Texas. No rust has been reported in Stafford County either.
The Pratt County Wheat Plot tour is at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 at the David Blasi farm one mile west of U.S. 281 and NW 20th street and then north to the farm.
With the condition of the wheat this year, all area farmers are encouraged to attend the event to learn how the cold weather affected the various wheat varieties.
Because the cold weather prevented the wheat from growing, it is going to push wheat harvest back to a more average harvest starting time around June 20 and running until July 4.
In 2012, the weather turned hot so early that harvest started in May, almost two weeks earlier than the normal average start day.
In fact, harvest has been earlier than normal for the last three to four years. But this year, the weather is working towards a mid-June harvest starting time.
A rule of thumb is that harvest will start six weeks after the wheat head has appeared and with almost nothing headed out yet, it looks like it will be at least the middle of June before harvest will start.
If the temperature stays like it is now, heads should all be showing in a week to 10 days from now.