Winter weather withers wheat

Diana Crawford
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - This week's sub-zero temperatures may damage area wheat crops.
Dry conditions in the Panhandle are already hindering wheat production this year and the record low temperatures this week could add to the problem by causing winter kill.

For this crop, frigid temperatures are detrimental because they freeze the crown inside the wheat. Snow is actually more favorable because it is good insulation for the wheat and protects it from the cold and wind. Kody Bessent of Texas Wheat Producers says, "Largely what will be affected, or is more susceptible of being affected, is more dry land agriculture or more dry land wheat, probably that has been planted later and the root systems are not as developed."

But farmers won't know the verdict just yet. Bessent says you have to wait until spring when the wheat comes out of dormancy and starts to grow.

If there is damage, he says it may not be permanent because nutrients and moisture in the soil can bring it back and help it grow. Bessent also says the wheat grown in this area is very hearty, so winter kill won't destroy the crop, but will reduce the growth potential and the yield.