KY Research and Education Center warns wheat growers about possible freeze damage

PRINCETON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky wheat producers may want to check their fields in the next couple of days for signs of freeze damage.  

Much of the state experienced temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit the nights and mornings of March 30 – April 3. While the temperatures were cold, they did not reach the typical threshold for wheat damage, which is below 24 degrees F for more than two hours for Feekes 6 and 7.

However, Carrie Knott, director of the University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, said nearly all her fields at the center have signs of freeze damage.  

The wheat at Princeton was at Feekes 6 and 7, which is the typical growth stage for this time of the year. The fields appeared mostly healthy with a visual inspection, but when Knott dissected the heads, she reported she could see signs of freeze damage. 

While wheat damage could be an isolated event in Princeton, according to Knott she encourages producers to dissect their wheat heads to check for potential freeze damage to their crop, 

When freeze damage occurs at this growth stage, the crop will likely produce another head and recover much of the yield, as long as normal growing conditions hold through harvest. Yield loss may potentially be between 10% to 20% in wheat with freeze damage at Feekes 6 and 7.  

For more information about assessing wheat freeze damage, producers may refer to UK Cooperative Extension Service’s publication AGR-253: Identifying Damage and Estimating Yield Reductions in Wheat. It is available online at https://bit.ly/39UHBzg or by contacting the local extension office. 

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