Freeze injury

Freeze injured plants from Cotton County, OK. Note the green, healthy leaf coming through the desiccated leaves in the plant on the right

Freeze injured plants from Cotton County, OK. Note the green, healthy leaf coming through the desiccated leaves in the plant on the right. These plants will make a full recovery with adequate moist and fertility.

Our recent extreme shifts in temperature have resulted in moderate to severe freeze injury in some Oklahoma wheat fields. To be honest, the damage is not as widespread or severe as I thought it would be given that most of our wheat had not had an opportunity to harden off. The dry soil conditions in western and southern Oklahoma did not help the situation, as there was not sufficient soil moisture to buffer the temperature shift in the top few inches of soil.

Freeze injury at this stage of growth (tillering) rarely impacts grain yield, but, as always, there are a few exceptions. Wheat that was very small or late-sown is more susceptible to winter kill. Similarly, wheat that does not have a good root system or that was shallow sown due to crop residue is more susceptible to winter kill. It is best to wait until after a few days of favorable growing conditions to check for freeze injury. Plants with regrowth that is green and healthy should make a full recovery, and this will be the case for most Oklahoma wheat fields.

Freeze injury in late-sown wheat near Enid, OK. Some of the smaller plants might have a tough time recovering, but given favorable conditions, the wheat stand as a whole still has adequate time to "fill in" and compensate for some of the lost plants.

Freeze injury in late-sown wheat near Enid, OK. Some of the smaller plants might have a tough time recovering, but it is still too early to determine whether or not the field as a whole will adequate to produce a decent grain crop.