By TIM UNRUH Kansas Agland Bitter winter conditions that sent temperatures well below zero -- and worse, if you factor in the wind -- have given the wheat crop a puny appearance. The wheat, on the verge of awakening from its winter sleep, is less than encouraging in some spots, despite two storms that sheltered it for days under a foot-deep blanket of snow. "There are definitely some areas in some fields that aren't looking the best," said Justin Knopf, a farmer in southeastern Saline County, near Gypsum and Kipp. Some spots in his fields have "quite a few plants that have a lot of brown root tissue and are not greening up yet," he said. Other plants show a green stem rising out of dead top growth. "They were severely injured from a harsh winter. That plant has certainly lost some yield potential," Knopf said. "There is new growth out of it," but it will produce fewer heads and kernels. Wide range of conditions During two days this week of touring fields from southern Cloud into Saline County, Tom Maxwell saw wheat conditions that range from excellent to poor. "Most is in the good to fair category," said Maxwell, the agricultural Extension agent for Saline and Ottawa counties. In some cases, farming practices and planting dates were factors. He saw continuous wheat planted in conventionally "clean-tilled (fields) that look excellent." Others under full tillage that were planted later than normal, where moisture wasn't as abundant, aren't looking good. "The wheat didn't develop well," Maxwell said. "You can see some winter kill, particularly on terrace tops and north-facing slopes." Normal planting period The normal planting period in north-central Kansas is Sept. 25 through Oct. 10. Wheat planted during that period had better growth before winter set in, he said, and the no-till wheat was better yet because it was able to preserve moisture. "But there are exceptions," Maxwell said. "Some fields are greening up rapidly, but others it's a little slower pulling out of dormancy." Moisture is not a problem yet. Using a soil probe Thursday, he found 2 1/2 to 3 feet of wet dirt in northern sections of his district and 2 1/2 to 4 feet near Salina. "We've got a little moisture to get us going this spring, but we will need timely moisture to get it into growing this spring," Maxwell said. "Right now, we're not using a lot of moisture," Maxwell said. He wouldn't speculate on whether the wheat crop is susceptible to a spring frost. "The wheat at this point is certainly on a little slower pace as far as breaking dormancy," Maxwell said, "but that could all change if we get a period of warm weather." -- Reporter Tim Unruh can be reached at 822-1419 or by email at tunruh@salina.com. - See more at: http://www.salina.com/news/wheat-condition-31314#sthash.tvITjBsX.dpuf