Source: Jim Shroyer, Extension Agronomy State Leader, Kansas State University

In some areas of Kansas, wheat has not yet emerged. Will the cold weather in December and January kill this wheat and prevent any chance of it making a stand later this winter? It's possible, but unlikely.

If the seed had germinated but not yet emerged, and if soil temperatures at seeding depth reach single digits, then that seed may be damaged. In that situation, full emergence later this winter or spring is unlikely. Damage could also occur where the plants have emerged but developed no crown roots, especially if soil temperatures reach single digits.

Where there has been snow cover, it is unlikely that soil temperatures have dipped into the single digits, however. Also, if the seed has not yet germinated or started to swell, it will not be damaged by soil temperatures even if they do reach single digits.

One of the most serious concerns on fields where the wheat has not yet emerged is the potential for blowing later this winter or early spring. Blowing will not only result in erosion losses from the fields in question, but can also cause damage to young emerged wheat plants in other fields.

The bottom line is that wheat that hasn't yet emerged will almost certainly emerge later this winter or early spring, whenever there's enough moisture and temperatures rise. When wheat emerges in early spring, K-State research has shown that the yield potential will typically be about 40 percent to 60 percent of normal. In this situation, yields will benefit most from a long, cool filling period in May.