Thursday, April 23, 2020

Is the Wheat Crop Toast? A Wheat Update

The view looks a little "crusty." No ... not the farmer. The wheat looks a little crusty and brown as you gaze across the horizon. Wheat continues its journey toward bread for grocery store shelves this spring. As the days warm from a few frosty mornings earlier this month, more time must pass before farmers learn how much of their crop is already "toast."
Yes, the outer leaves are discolored.
But while freezing temperatures have left a brownish cast across some of the wheat, my resident optimist believes that the growing point for our major crop was far enough down that the damage is minimal in our fields.
When he burrowed down into the plant, he found still-green new shoots emerging. (It's near his thumbs in the photo below.)
When he felt the stalk for the growing point, it was still halfway down the stalk (about where he thumb is positioned).
According to Romulo Lollato, Kansas State University Extension wheat and forage specialist, the extent of damage varies based on the wheat variety, planting date and field conditions.
Kansas Wheat released this chart with their evaluation of damage. (Click on the graphic to make it bigger and make it readable.) According to their map, we are in a moderately high area of freeze damage. As always, the final analysis will come from the scale tickets at harvest.
This year, the Wheat Quality Council has canceled its Hard Winter Wheat Tour because of concerns over the potential spread of Covid-19. The tour was supposed to take place May 4 to 6. Traditionally, the Wheat Quality Council tour has brought 100 people from large cities from the U.S. and even beyond to the state. Tour participants would travel for three days and stop along the way to take measurements and evaluate wheat condition. The tour usually includes stops at farms, filling up at gas stations, eating at rural cafes and staying at small-town motels. The Wheat Tour typically concludes with a forecast for the projected harvest, based on the data collected along the way. The statewide tour had the potential for inadvertently spreading Covid-19, according to David Green, WQC director.
June 2019
Ultimately, we'll have to wait until the combine harvests the grain in June to get the ultimate verdict on how the April freezes - and the myriad of other variable factors - ultimately affect the amount of wheat trucked to Kansas elevators.


  1. Fingers crossed! I absolutely love your final image.

    1. That was probably my favorite photo from last year's harvest.