Blowing soil fills seed furrows and partially buries small wheat plants in the spring, resulting in increased plant stress that weakens the plants and makes them more susceptible to further damage by disease and other environmental stresses.

Moisture from recent snow was welcomed in the Panhandle, however, a combination of dry conditions, fluctuating air and soil temperatures, and numerous days of strong winds have already taken their toll on this year's winter wheat crop. The area has received just one-half to two-thirds of normal rainfall over the last 90 days.

In portions of Kimball, Banner, and Box Butte counties as much as 30 percent of the winter wheat has suffered serious damage from blowing and drifting soil. Growers throughout the Panhandle have started to conduct emergency tillage operations to try and reduce damage from moving soil (see G1537 Wind Erosion and Its Control). Irrigated wheat fields that were planted late last fall and produced little growth have been particularly hard hit. The prospect of more damaging winds before active wheat growth loom high.

Countering Erosion from Wind

If you think you have lost your wheat stand in a significant portion of a field, one of your first priorities is to prevent further soil erosion from causing problems on adjacent ground. This may be done with tillage or by applying manure or straw to the area.

Recommendations for Reseeding

Timing. Wheat can be planted directly into thin or dead spots in existing stands or planted in new stands; however, it must be planted early enough to assure adequate vernalization of the seedlings. The process of vernalization is necessary for normal development and heading in winter wheat. Planting after March 1 in the Panhandle is risky because imbibed seeds or seedlings must experience four to six weeks of night temperatures below 40