May 9, 2001 | By: Laura Skillman

Some wheat fields in Kentucky are beginning to show damage caused by freezing temperatures in mid April.

Wheat damage does not appear to be extensive across the state, but some fields may have damage of 20 to 25 percent, said James Herbek, grains specialist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Service.

Damage appears to be somewhat more pronounced in fields that were planted using no-till methods as compared to conventional tillage. Some varieties also appear to have been more prone to freeze injury than others.

Previous years also have shown no-till fields often sustain more damage from late freezes than other fields as well as some varieties being more susceptible. Soil heat radiation is generally less in no-till crops than in tilled ones and that may be a factor in freeze damage.

This year's damage occurred because wheat was in a susceptible growth stage on April 18 when temperatures reached 26 to 29 degrees and remained at that level for at least two hours.

Herbek said he was somewhat surprised by the damage because he had anticipated that there was enough canopy to protect most fields.

Farmers will have to make their own determination on whether the damage is severe enough to consider not harvesting the crop, Herbek said. But he noted most crops already have had most of their inputs such as nitrogen, herbicides and insecticides, so the costs already have been incurred.


James Herbek, (270) 365-7541