Minimal snow levels, with frigid temperatures stress small grains and other winter crops.
Some green still visible near the crown of this winter barley vegetation at Rock Springs Photo by Greg Roth
I was worried at the beginning of last month about winterkill and that was after several nights of subzero temperatures. Now a month later, we’ve had several more nights below zero, a midwinter thaw with significant ice buildup in low spots and now another bout with subzero temperatures in March. I did some scouting over the weekend and did not find any mortality but did find some stressed wheat and barley. Our barley plots are showing unusually desiccated top growth, but still have green tissue near the crown. There is a patchwork of snow, open spots and ice covering this field and some others. Many fields had water running in the low spots during the weekend of the 22nd of February and now those areas are frozen solid. The wheat that I had scouted still had viable small wheat plants and I suspect they will survive. On the bright side, the frozen soil and freezing and thawing over the last few weeks should help to alleviate surface soil compaction. I am still hopeful that wheat and perhaps barley will emerge from the winter with only minor or moderate damage. With the late spring, wheat may be a bit later and may not develop quite as many tillers. The next phase of the winter, which looks like it will begin next week, will consist of freezing and thawing events that will stress the small grains and could result in the actual winterkill.
For now, plan now to continue to scout and monitor some of these crops for winterkill and then make changes in your cropping plans for spring if necessary.
Source : psu.edu