COLLEGE STATION – The damage to the wheat crop in the Panhandle, Southern Plains and Rolling Plains regions from the last bout of freezing weather was not uniform, but losses were “significant,” according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist.
Though ice loads during freezing weather can damage irrigation pivots, many producers will keep them running until it drops well below freezing, said Rick Auckerman, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Deaf Smith County. The temperature was 32 degrees with 20 -25 mph northerly wind when this picture was taken. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Rick Auckerman) And further damage probably occured with temperatures below freezing in some of those areas April 22-23, said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head. Temperatures were likely low enough to damaage wheat in boot or blooming.
Freezing weather this late is a rare phenomenon, Miller said. He noted that in his 35 years as an AgriLife Extension agronomist, he’s never seen freezes occur this late in the year.
Brad Charboneau, National Weather Service meteorologist, Lubbock, said the late freezes this year haven’t broken the record yet, but they are “definitely abnormal.” The average last freeze date for Lubbock is April 10, and the record latest freeze was May 8 in 1938.
Generally, Miller said, irrigated wheat in the High Plains was hurt more than dryland wheat, but the damage so far has varied region to region, in some cases county to county — even field to field.
For example, Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo, reported 20 to 50 percent damage from previous freezes with many of the tillers still in good shape.
“Two fields that I had inspected were 75 to 80 percent damaged with collapsed stems and heads dying,” Auckerman said. “These fields were thin plant stands and not irrigated well when this freeze moved in. Now with this last freeze, all bets are off, so to speak, and again we will have to wait to assess this past round of damage.”
Ice loads during freezing weather can cause irrigation pivots to collapse. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Rick Auckerman)
But further north, Brad Easterling, AgriLife Extension agent for Sherman County, north of Amarillo on the Texas/Oklahoma border, reported: “After assessing our wheat, overall don’t think the freeze damage is going to be as bad as what was first thought. We did freeze again last week and another one is expected this week.”