A spring threat has become a reality. Our wheat crop is coated with ice. This is not good news for a plant that is out of dormancy and growing. The crop at this stage of growth is referred to as jointing. This chart from the University of Illinois Extension shows the different stages.


The smart folks at our own state Extension Service  (Kansas State University) describe the effect of freezing temperatures at the jointing stage:

  • Approximate injurious temperature for two hours: -24 F.
  • Primary Symptoms: Death of growing point; leaf yellowing or burning; lesions, splitting, or bending of lower stem; odor
  • Yield effect: Moderate to severe

We do expect some reduction in yield, but it’s hard to predict much beyond that. Modern seed varieties are nothing short of amazing in their ability to survive extremes. The same could be said for the farmer and his crops.

For now, we’ll keep one eye on the fields and another on the temperature gauge.

Winter Wheat, April 2013

Winter Wheat, April 2013

Winter Wheat Field, April 2013

Winter Wheat Field, April 2013

Gloomy skies may not be good for the soul, but they are good for our wheat fields right now. The wheat plants have broken their winter dormancy. We want the growth now to be steady, not speeded up by unseasonably warm temperatures.

We’re still worried about the drought, so we were glad for yesterday’s mist and snow flurries. Today, a surprise snow storm blew in. It’s hard to tell how much snow we received because of the drifting. Maybe about three inches or so. This latest moisture will definitely help, especially since the wheat is now growing.

We’re still way behind in terms of moisture, however. The National Drought Mitigation Center says Kansas needs 12 to 16 inches of water to fully recover from the drought. This state has crazy weather, so hope that doesn’t come all at once!

Take a look at month 6:

Winter Wheat Field, March 2013

Winter Wheat Field, March 2013

Winter Wheat, March 2013

Winter Wheat, March 2013

Winter Barn 2013

Finally, rain last night. We received just short of 1/2 inch, but we’ll take it. We received a tiny shower after wheat planting, but that’s been it for moisture. To make things even drier, we’ve had record high temperatures this fall, close to 90 degrees, and strong winds. In fact, some days, it’s been hard to walk across open fields.

Still, my farmer says he’s pleased with the amount of tillers coming out of each plant. Those tillers will eventually produce grain heads. He’s hoping that the wheat will now use the moisture to put down deeper roots. The plants are not yet dormant because we haven’t had consistently cool temperatures. However, it will go dormant soon.

Take a look at month 2, on a sunny Sunday afternoon:

Kansas Winter Wheat, Nov. 11, 2012

Kansas Winter Wheat Field, Nov. 12, 2012


Blizzard ’11

February 2, 2011

Snow plow blizzard winter

Random act of kindness: Snow plow opens up our driveway after the blizzard.

Yesterday’s storm had clever nicknames on Twitter, like the Blizzard of Oz, Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon. I didn’t feel very clever when looking out at the sheets of horizontal white snow, though.

We had prepared ourselves and the animals as best we could. It never seems enough when the wind is blowing at 30 and 40 mph and wind chills drop below zero. The drifts had sharp peaks and some stood six feet deep. We face north, toward an open quarter (160 acres) of wheat, so some snow even blew into the house.

Worse yet, we had two Nubian dairy goats about to give birth (kid). They had shelter and straw, but the wind was blowing so savagely that it whipped around and into where they lay. V. trekked out time and again to check on them, even moving them in midstorm to another drier spot. He never complained.

Today, wind chills remain subzero, but the blizzard has moved on. The dogs are out running through snow drifts. The chickens are pecking at snow that blew into their house. The calves were back out on wheat pasture early this morning — and we’re still waiting for the baby goats to arrive.

We ended up only getting four inches of snow. We’re thankful for any moisture for our thirsty wheat crop. We also send out a big thanks to our township snow plow driver, who took the extra time to open up our driveway.

Red barn in snow Kansas

Antique farm wagon in snow Kansas

Horse in snow Kansas

Horse and Angus crossbred young bred cow

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