Winter survival of wheat
So if you have bare patches now, it is a good idea to keep an eye on them and if they slowly expand over the winter, get out and check in the soil around the base of the plants to see if there are small worms curled up about an inch or two below the surface, especially in loose soils. A spot application of a registered insecticide on a warm (above 55 degrees) winter afternoon will do a pretty good job of controlling the worms and allow the plants to come back in the spring as these worms only feed on the above ground leaf tissue, and not on the roots or crown.
Symptoms of winter survival problems
If plants are killed outright by cold temperatures, they won’t green up next spring. But if they are only damaged, it might take them a while to die. They will green up and then slowly go “backwards” and eventually die. There are enough nutrients in the crown to allow the plants to green up, but the winter injury causes vascular damage so that nutrients that are left cannot move, or root rot diseases move in and kill the plants. This slow death is probably the most common result of winter injury on wheat.
Direct cold injury is not the only source of winter injury. Under dry soil conditions, wheat plants may suffer from desiccation. This can kill or weaken plants, and is actually a more common problem than direct cold injury.
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