A durable crop: Western Kansas agronomists believe wheat withstood bitter temps

Agriculture

FORD COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Did wheat survive the recent arctic blast? Many agronomists have been out in the fields the past two weeks checking on this year’s wheat crop and how it braved February’s frigid temperatures. 

The agronomy and laboratory services company, ServiTech, monitors crop conditions in eight states including more than 60 Kansas counties. Its agronomists have been monitoring numerous acres as temperatures continue to warm.

“Right now, the crop of concern is certainly wheat in the lower states that we cover here from Kansas down into Oklahoma and Texas,” said Greg Ruehle, president and CEO of ServiTech.

Ruehle says although the bitter wind chills from the storm did burn many plant leaves, much of the crop looks promising. He says that the early snowfalls and the slow onset of dormancy gave the plant needed moisture and protection, and the areas that saw dustings of snow were better insulated, keeping soil temps warmer and the root system safe.

“The soil profile in Kansas maintained temps in the 20 to 25-degree range, which really protected the roots of the plant,” said Ruehle. He stated wheat stands across the state could vary due to a multitude of factors such as planting dates, soil moisture, and ground insulation.

“Those crops that were planted earlier in the fall, had more of a chance to grow, came through that cold spell in a lot better condition than the later planted crops,” said Ruehle.

He says the majority of the growing season is still ahead, and as temperatures warm, that’s when agronomists will be able to see the full impact the cold left behind.

“This crop can be made and lost several times as we get towards spring,” he said. “The resilience of wheat is something that is absolutely vital to our western Kansas agricultural producers because the conditions we deal with are not uniform at all from year to year.”

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