Freeze damage update – 05/05/2020

Amanda de Oliveira Silva, Small Grains Extension Specialist

As time goes by the impact of the Mid-April freeze event becomes more evident across wheat fields in the West, Southwest, and Southcentral regions of Oklahoma. Other regions of the state were lightly or not affected by the freeze.

Wheat should be filling kernels by now, but all we are finding are sterile and “empty” heads (Figure 1). Wheat continue to be green and sometimes look healthy from the outside but is not producing any grain.

A significant freeze-damage on wheat at Roger Mills and Washita counties on the West part of the state may lead to a reduction in harvested acres this year.

 “The April freeze has significantly impacted most Southwest wheat acres. Fields that remained for grain production estimates have some level of freeze damage and in just about all counties hay and graze-out acres have gone up” – Gary Strickland.  

Although multiple fields in the Southwest and Southcentral region were affected by the freeze, the level of freeze damage largely varies across and within fields. At Jackson County for example some fields are severely damaged (80%) and some are not (5%). The south and west sides of the county seem to have a heavier damage. Tilman County is showing an average of 40% damage. The eastern to southeastern and along the south part of the county seems to have the greatest damage (60-80%) and the other parts with as low as 10% of damage. Greer County is showing an average of 33% damage.

Cotton County shows an average of 40% freeze damage. It is possible that only about 50% or less of the wheat planted will be harvested as several fields were already cut for hay.

Figure 1. Freeze-damaged head with “empty” green heads.

For more information about crop production and yield estimates across Oklahoma watch the 2020 Crop Reports Webinar here:

Thanks to our field contributors

Aaron Henson – Tilman County Extension Educator

David Nowlin – Caddo county Extension Educator

Gary Strickland – Jackson and Greer County Extension Educator, SWREC Dryland Cropping System Specialist

Kyle Worthington – Canadian county Extension Educator

Melissa Koesler – Garvin County Extension Educator

Robert Calhoun – Senior Agriculturalist for the OSU Small Grains Program

Ron Wright – Custer County Extension Educator

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About Amanda De Oliveira Silva

I have served as an Assistant Professor and Small Grains Extension Specialist at Oklahoma State University since August 2019. I believe that close interaction with producers is vital to understand their production strategies and to establish realistic research goals. My program focuses on developing science-based information to improve the agronomic and economic viability of small grains production in Oklahoma and in the Southern Great Plains.

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