Ice-coated wheat, and symptoms of freeze damage

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

click image to zoomJim Shroyer, K-State Research and ExtensionWheat with a thick coating of ice in Saline County, April 11, 2013. In central Kansas, many fields of wheat were covered in a thick coating of ice on April 11. By itself, a coating of ice on the surface of leaves and stems will usually not cause direct damage unless the wheat is tall enough that the weight of the ice breaks the wheat over and causes lodging. Ice can also cause leaves to become water-soaked and mushy, but this will not affect new leaves.

Ice on the surface of leaves and stems doesn’t necessarily mean there will be ice inside the stems. Those are two separate issues. If there is ice inside the stems, that may or may not injure the developing heads. You might think ice inside the stems would always cause damage, but anyone who has seen a lot of spring freeze events knows that wheat’s response can be unpredictable.

There have been times when there was ice inside the stems, and it simply melted and the wheat had normal head development afterward. It may depend on how cold the temperatures were when the ice formed. Other times, ice will kill the heads or split open the stems, which usually results in severe injury. Oddly, even split stems do not always mean the end of the tiller. In 1997, there were a lot of split stems that surprised everyone by healing up on their own, due to the wet mild conditions in the weeks following the freeze.

click image to zoomJim Shroyer, K-State Research and ExtensionCloseup of ice on wheat. Unless the ice formed inside the stems or breaks over the plants, this in itself should not cause a problem. It may cause the leaves to become water-soaked, but new leaves should be fine unless the growing points have been killed. Where stems and/or growing points were killed by the freeze, start looking for new tiller growth coming from the crown area. In fact, look for new tiller growth even if you think the stems look okay. Sometimes tillers can be killed but will not show any symptoms for quite a while. In those cases, the first sign that the tillers are dead is the sudden growth of new tillers at the base of the plant.

There are many possible scenarios after a freeze, and things do not always go according to “the book.” So just keep watching your fields closely over the next 7 to 10 days for the following: 

* The color of the developing head or growing point. As long as heads are light green and turgid, the head in that tiller is fine. If the head is whitish and flaccid, it has died.

* The color of newly emerging leaves. If they are nice and green, that probably indicates the tiller is alive. If newly emerging leaves are yellow, that probably indicates the tiller is dead. The color of existing leaves is not terribly important, except for the flag leaf. Existing leaves will almost always turn bluish-black after a hard freeze, and give off a silage odor. Those leaves are burned back and dead, but that in itself is not a problem as long as newly emerging leaves are green.

* The integrity of the stem. If there are lesions or crimps anywhere on the stems, that usually means the wheat will lodge at some point during the season. If the stems look undamaged, that’s a good sign.

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Portable Conveyors

Convey-all portable conveyors are designed to handle your crops gently and efficiently. We offer an extensive line of high capacity ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form