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Freeze effect on wheat uncertain

4/18/2013

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

QUINTER -- After walking across a field destined to be planted to corn later this spring, Keanan Kroetsch didn't mind admitting just how cold the walk was.

Not surprisingly, the soil temperature was cold as well, preventing farmers from getting into the field and starting the rite of corn planting.

He and others also are wondering what effect the cold will have on wheat fields hit by freezing temperatures and ice.

"It's looking a little tough," he said of the area's wheat.

Temperatures last week dropped well below the freezing mark, as low as 15 degrees in some locations.

"It's hard to tell right now," Kroetsch said of what effect the cold weather will have on the wheat.

That answer might not be available until sometime next week, after the latest round of cold temperatures retreat and warmer weather starts to set in.

Kroetsch is hopeful the growing point of the wheat will be OK, even though much of the plant itself looks brown.

"Out here we're dry, and I don't think it helped anything," he said.

Some of it, however, is in jeopardy.

"It seems like the smaller the wheat, the worse it got hit," he said. "Which usually isn't the case."

Generally, larger wheat plants seem to suffer the most, as the freezing temperatures knock back much of the plant.

Wheat fields in the Hays area aren't showing much effect from the freeze, although some of the tips have been burned back.

West of WaKeeney, however, the fields have taken it on the chin.

Kroetsch said temperatures in the Oakley area were as much as 5 degrees colder than the WaKeeney area, and Hays was slightly warmer.

"Every year is different," he said.

Last year, the temperature was nearly 70 degrees and farmers already were planting corn.

"Hopefully it will rain," Kroetsch said. "Rain would make it a lot better."