Hard freeze could affect winter wheat in Panhandle

Record low temperatures into the 20s have some wheat producers worried about their crops.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Amarillo took a look at their crops to analyze the potential threat of hard freeze on winter wheat.

Winter wheat with growth below 12 inches is expected to remain undamaged, while crops between 16 to 18 inches are subject to hard freeze, according to AgriLife Plant Physiologist and Agronomist Dr. Qingwu Xue.

"If you look at the whole state, the north part of the Panhandle will probably have less damage because the wheat is still less than 12 inches tall. Some of it maybe only 6 inches tall," said Xue. "They probably don't have much damage."

Plants in the early booting stage shouldn't be affected, but plants in the late booting to early heading stage are subject to yield loss.

"Crops in the northern part of the Panhandle are not that big of a concern," said Xue. "I
n the southern part, if the plants are too tall and the head is close to coming up, that's the area we need to worry about."

Xue says it may be too soon to tell if there is hard freeze, but crops will begin to show damage in 5 to 10 days, with yield loss measures within 2 months. He also said that potential freeze damage could affect grain quality but shouldn't increase prices for consumers.