Friday, April 28, 2017

How Did the Low Temperatures Affect My Wheat?

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent

Wow……only in Kansas! We can easily go from 70 degrees F one day to below freezing the next! Our wheat crop likes these abrupt temperatures about as much as we do!!!! Which is not at all!!! So the temperatures during the morning of April 27 dropped below freezing and into the lower 30’s or upper 20’s in most of the state. The lowest measured temperature was 24 degrees F in north central Kansas (Scandia, Republic Co.), where temperatures were below 32 degrees F for as long as 7.3 hours. The Post Rock Extension District has three weather stations which are in Jewell, Mitchell and Osborne counties. At these locations, temperatures were below 32 degrees F for 3.8 hours in Jewell Co., 6.2 hours in Mitchell Co. and 7 hours in Osborne Co.

The effects of a freeze event on the wheat crop will depend on whether the event matches critical sensitive stages of crop development and on several micro-climate factors which are field-specific according to Dr. Romulo Lollato, K-State Research and Extension Wheat specialist. So the areas of the state that would be the most vulnerable to injury based on the wheat development stages, would be northcentral, central and southwest Kansas. These counties reported temperatures cold enough to potentially damage the wheat due to their current growth stages.

Lollato explains that the actual freeze damage potential will be very field specific and depend on several micro-climate factors. Low areas of the fields might experience colder temperatures than those reported at nearby weather stations. Similarly, increased wind speed might help warmer air make its way into the canopy, decreasing freeze injury potential. On the other hand, low wind speed might allow the canopy’s micro-climate temperatures to decrease more than those measured at nearby weather stations. Similarly, warm soils might help buffer some of the cold temperatures experienced in certain fields.

Soil temperature, which is affected by soil moisture status and by the presence of crop residue on the soil surface, can potentially help buffer cold temperatures. Moist soils will be able to hold warm temperatures better than dry soils. The majority of our area has good soil moisture in the profile due to the recent rainfall events, which could help decrease the actual cold damage experienced.

Below are a few guidelines for each of the growth stages of the wheat and freeze damage symptoms to look for:

Boot. In this stage, wheat can be injured if temperatures drop down into the mid to upper 20’s for several hours. Injury is more likely if this occurs repeatedly and if it is windy at night. Temperatures at these levels were measured in parts of southwest Kansas and in north central Kansas. In north central Kansas, the majority of the fields are at boot stage currently and could sustain injury, as temperatures were as low as 24 degrees F. To detect injury, producers should wait several days, after it has warmed up, and then split open some stems and look at the developing head. If the head is green or light greenish in color and seems firm, it is most likely going to be fine. If the head is yellowish and mushy, that’s a sign of freeze injury.

Freeze injury at the boot stage causes a number of symptoms when the heads are enclosed in the sheaths of the flag leaves. Freezing may trap the spikes inside the boots so that they cannot emerge normally. When this happens, the spikes will remain in the boots, split out the sides of the boots, or emerge base-first from the boots.

Sometimes heads emerge normally from the boots after freezing, but remain yellow or even white instead of their usual green color. When this happens, all or part of the heads have been killed. Frequently, only the male parts (anthers) of the flowers die because they are more sensitive to low temperatures than the female parts. Since wheat is self-pollinated, sterility caused by freeze injury results in poor kernel set and low grain yield.

It’s possible for some of the spikelets to be alive and a healthy dark green while other spikelets on the same head are damaged. If a spikelet flowers normally and the kernels on that spikelet develop normally, then the head is at least partially viable and will produce grain (unless it freezes again, of course).

Awns beginning to appear. If the awns have begun to appear, there can be significant injury to the heads if temperatures reach about 30 degrees or lower for several hours. The heads may fully exert from the boot, but few, if any, of the spikelets may pollinate normally and fill grain. Damaged heads from a freeze at this stage of growth may seem green and firm at first glance, but the floral parts will be yellowish and mushy. Field reports from north central Kansas indicate that more advanced fields were at this stage as of April 25; thus, the low temperatures measured during the morning of April 27 could most likely have caused damage to fields in this situation.

In addition to all the information provided above, be watching for any freeze damage to lower stems. If the damage is severe enough, the plants will eventually lodge. Actual damage, if any, will not become apparent until temperatures have warmed back up for several days and growth has resumed.

K-State Research and Extension has an excellent publication, “Spring Freeze Injury to Kansas Wheat” that is available either online or at one of our Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center. The publication, at NO COST, is an excellent resource that explains the potential injury to wheat at different growth stages and at different temperatures along with color pictures. 

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Sandra may be contacted at or by calling Smith Center, 282-6823, Beloit 738-3597, Lincoln 524-4432, Mankato 378-3174, or Osborne 346-2521. Join us on Facebook at “Post Rock Extension” along with our blog site at “ Also remember our website is and my twitter account is @PRDcrops.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Check severe weather preparation, policy coverage

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

Kansans with years of experience watching the weather know that when spring rolls around, it’s time to turn our attention to the skies — and to the weather reports.

Spring is when many state residents begin preparing for potential severe weather problems. That includes checking your insurance policies on personal property to make sure you have the coverage and information you need.

Recent weather data from the National Weather Service supports the continuing need for preparation. The National Weather Service reports there were 102 tornadoes in the state in 2016, one above the 10-year average. The month of May last year had the most tornadoes, 63, with 34 occurring on one day, May 24.

But twisters are only part of our potential weather problems. Kansas Insurance Department statistics, through the years, indicate that during the spring and summer there is hardly a day when hail damage is not reported somewhere in the state. Factor in the ever-present wind, and our citizens contend with weather issues almost daily from March through August - and sometimes beyond.

According to company estimates compiled for the Kansas Insurance Department, Kansans submitted a total of 51,708 property insurance claims in 2016 because of severe weather activity. Although the total estimated storm loss was at a 10-year low--$107.26 million—that is still a significant number of damaged homes, farms and outbuildings. Thank goodness only 12 injuries were reported, and, more importantly, no deaths occurred.
For video presentations of storm preparation and recovery topics, view these Kansas Insurance Department videos: 

The Kansas Insurance Department has compiled the following checklist of questions and statements that consumers and their insurance agents can review. These can help determine whether your insurance is ready for the severe weather season.

Ask yourself these questions
Do you have the right homeowners or renters insurance? Do you know what your policy covers? Is the amount of coverage adequate? Does it cover new additions or recent remodeling?

Check all limits, including coverage for contents. Keep your agent’s name and number available and easy to find, and periodically discuss coverage options with him or her.

Know your policy coverage exclusions

Not all policies cover the following: Water damage, including flood and surface damage, whether driven by wind or not; backup of sewer or drains; and sump pump failure. These are the most common exclusions. Riders for these problems may be available to add to your existing policy. Also, check your auto policy. Comprehensive coverage (other than collision) usually pays if damage is caused by wind, hail and/or flood.

Inventory your personal property
The Kansas Insurance Department offers a “Personal Home Inventory” booklet to help you list the contents of your home. Go online at, under “Finding a Publication,” to print a personal copy. Keep a hard copy of your inventory, sales receipts and video or photographs of your personal property in a secure place outside your home.

You can also download the application for your smartphone from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Get help if you need it

For assistance at any time, call the Kansas Insurance Department Consumer Assistance Hotline (in Kansas), 800-432-2484.

For more resources to assist with disaster preparedness visit or contact your local Post Rock District Extension Office in Beloit, Mankato, Lincoln, Osborne, and Smith Center.

The content for this blog is from the Kansas Insurance Department’s Insurance Matters column, March 17, 2017, by: Ken Selzer, CPA, Commissioner of Insurance.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What is the outlook for wheat diseases for this spring?

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent 

Stripe Rust
The moisture around the district was a much welcomed event!!! We received some significant rainfall amounts around the district that ranged from 2 inches to over 3 ½ inches!!! However with that can also set up some conditions for diseases in your wheat this spring.

Rust diseases, (Leaf and Stripe Rust), are some of the most important concerns in the state and annually cause more yield loss than most other diseases of wheat and often become established in Texas and Oklahoma before spreading north to Kansas. We can use outbreaks in these southern areas as early indicators of problems that may arise in Kansas according to Dr. Erick DeWolf, K-State Research and Extension plant pathologist. This year, the early reports from Texas indicate that stripe rust levels are low in most areas and Oklahoma has yet to report stripe rust in 2017. So the good news is……..this suggests that the risk of stripe rust in Kansas is much lower than in 2015 or 2016! The recent moist weather has been favorable to fungal diseases, such as tan spot, and can also bring rust spores from Texas and Oklahoma into Kansas, so producers should be actively scouting for these diseases from now on.

NEWS BREAK……. But Stripe rust was found this week in Kansas, down in the southeast and southcentral part of the state, but is pretty much contained in the lower canopy. So be prepared to scout your wheat in the next week or two. 

Leaf Rust
An early fungicide application might be beneficial in situations where a susceptible variety is experiencing significant tan spot incidence early in the season. For most fields, however, growers should focus on evaluating the need for a fungicide application between flag leaf emergence and flowering.

Leaf rust, however, has been more of a problem in Texas, with reports of severe leaf rust in mid-canopy prior to heading. Oklahoma reported some active leaf rust earlier this season, but the dry conditions in March appeared to hold the disease in check. According to the K-State Research and Extension plant pathology lab, there are no reports of leaf rust to date in Kansas for the 2017 season. We have a lot of acres planted to varieties that are susceptible to leaf rust (T158, LCS Mint, WB4458 or Winterhawk). We will need to watch for signs of leaf rust as we approach flag leaf emergence in Kansas during April. 

Tan Spot
Tan spot, may be starting to show up, especially in fields with continuous wheat which allows the fungus to buildup on the wheat residue over the winter. The initial symptoms of tan spot are small dark brown spots that expand to become tan elliptical or diamond-shaped lesions with a yellow halo. Average statewide yield losses from tan spot have been estimated at almost 2 percent per year, but can be as much as 25 percent in highly susceptible varieties. Tan spot can be managed by selecting resistant varieties or with a fungicide spray. A fungicide application made between flag leaf emergence and flowering should provide effective disease control and a yield increase.

Wheat Streak Mosaic
The viral disease, Wheat Streak Mosaic (WSM), has emerged as a serious problem in parts of western Kansas again in 2017. Wheat steak mosaic causes a yellow discoloration of leaves and severe stunting in infected plants. The KSU diagnostic lab was receiving samples of wheat with wheat streak mosaic already in the fall, which is an early indication that this may be an above-average year for this disease. DeWolf reported that the KSU lab continues to receive samples with symptoms of wheat streak mosaic this spring and reports of above-normal levels of the disease in some areas of west central Kansas. I have received several calls on yellowing wheat wondering if WSM could be the reason. The wheat that I have examined at this time appears to be a combination of drought stress with some nitrogen deficiency in the lower leaves. Because of the dry conditions prior to the recent rain, root development of the wheat plants was fairly small and may not be down in the soil profile where the nitrogen is located. The precipitation may reduce the drought stress that was hastening the decline of fields infected with wheat streak mosaic in western Kansas. Symptoms of wheat streak mosaic and barley yellow dwarf are likely to intensify as temperatures warm at the end of the week.
Common Root Rot

Several samples, from the KSU plant pathology lab, of wheat from western Kansas have also been infected with common root rot. This fungal disease causes dark-colored lesions on the sub-crown internode and other roots. DeWolf explained that the damaged roots often break off when plants are removed from the soil. Common root rot is present at low levels almost every year in Kansas and survives between seasons on crop residues and organic matter in the soil. In most years, the plants have enough healthy roots to compensate for the damage caused by the disease. When soil conditions are dry, however, the damage caused by common root rot can cause more problems. Under dry soil conditions, the plants are not growing as vigorously and often have poorly developed root systems. Any damage to the root system by common root rot aggravates the drought stress and is likely contributing to the decline of some wheat fields this season.

Fortunately, parts of north central Kansas did receive some moisture which will certainly help with our dry conditions. Let’s hope we continue to receive some moisture.

K-State Research and Extension has an excellent publication, “Wheat Disease ID Book” that is available either online or at one of our Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

For further information on disease management in your wheat, contact me at any Post Rock Extension District Office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center. If you have further questions with wheat production, contact me at any Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.