MANHATTAN, Kan. - This winter's wet weather has been welcomed by farmers to a point, but some wheat-growing areas have seen a little too much of a good thing.

"This has been a very wet winter in Kansas," said Kansas State University agronomist Jim Shroyer. "Where soils have been partially or completely frozen, or where soils are saturated and cannot drain, water may have ponded on the soil surface. This has raised some questions about how long wheat can survive under water."

Shroyer, who is the Extension agronomy leader with K-State Research and Extension, said there is little research on the subject. Most producers, however, have seen or heard about wheat that has drowned from being in standing water too long in terrace channels or low-lying areas during a wet fall or spring.

"This will not necessarily be a good guide to what is happening this winter," Shroyer warned. "Where wheat is dormant or soils are frozen or very cold, the plants can survive for quite awhile under water. Exactly how long is hard to say, but certainly more than a week."

Flooding and waterlogging are more of a concern on actively growing wheat under warm soil conditions, he said. In this situation, wheat can be damaged after being under water in anaerobic conditions for more than a few days, although it is hard to be specific.

"In unscientific terms, wheat is a tough plant and seems to withstand many problems under field conditions that cause significant injury under controlled research conditions," Shroyer said. "Predicting the effect of some environmental stresses, such as waterlogging and freezes, can be an inexact science, at best."

SOURCE: K-State news release.