A Different Victim of Recent Extreme Weather

The blast of wintry weather has the potential to do some real damage to wheat crops.

Wheat crops could be immediately impacted by just a few hours of temperatures below the freezing mark, and with only two months until harvest, plants may have a hard time bouncing back. 

Dr. Brent Bean is an Extension Agronomist with West Texas A&M University. He says "It's been a great year for wheat with all the moisture we had in the fall and the winter, and even in the spring here the wheat looks great. We have excellent yield potential; the best we've had in years."

But, he says, that may soon all change. Right now wheat is at a vital part of its growing stage, and the part of the plant that produces grain called the "head" is still fragile.

Farmer David Cleavinger says his 1500 acres of wheat could be hit hard.  "If [the wheat] gets frozen then it will not produce grain so were concerned with these temperatures right now."

The colder it gets, the more heads it could destroy, unless it gets some aid from above.  Several inches of snow on the plants would insulate it from the cold temperatures, but in order for the whole crop to be protected, farmers need to see that snow across the entire field.

Dr. Bean adds, "Really snow is a good thing because its like an insulated blanket, so it helps keep heat in.  Yeah the snow is ice but that's actually warmer than say the twenty-one degrees the air temperatures may get to."

Cleavinger says, "Wheat is a crop of nine lives.  Its a very resilient plant and it can come through a lot, so we have a lot of hope for it.  It's not over and we're very positive that it's going to be alright."

Dr. Bean also says that it will take a week to ten days to find out just how hard the crop will be hit and how that will affect the price of wheat.