Many environmental conditions can cause pollination problems in wheat, such as freeze damage, drought, or heat stress. This year, the most concerning factor as it relates to a potential for unsuccessful pollination is heat stress, in particular that experienced during May 9-12
Wheat is generally sensitive to unusually high temperatures at nearly every stage of growth, being more sensitive in the reproductive stages. Both daytime high and nighttime low temperatures have been extremely high across parts of Kansas during the four-day period May 9-12. Extreme heat in early- to mid-May occasionally happens. To have four consecutive days of days with highs in the low- to mid-90s F at a time when much of the state’s wheat crop is either in the heading or flowering stage is concerning.
This year started off with statewide below-normal temperatures through April. With the dry conditions experienced through this period, the cool temperatures helped mitigate drought expansion and water demands. However, May has brought a turn to much-warmer-than-normal temperatures for Kansas thus far. With our lack of previous warmth, our bodies haven’t had an opportunity to adjust and it has brought on numerous additional stressors.
Farmers in much of the state are planting at a rapid pace following the recent rain. However, the speed of planting coupled with unusually windy conditions can potentially interfere with preemergence herbicide applications. There are several things to consider when the planter ‘gets too far ahead’ of the sprayer and corn is emerged before preemergence herbicides can be applied to corn.
The Department of Agronomy and K-State Research and Extension will host several winter wheat variety plot tours in different regions of the state over the coming weeks. Make plans to attend a plot tour near you to see and learn about the newest available and upcoming wheat varieties, their agronomics, and disease reactions.
K-State Research and Extension will host its Spring Crops Field Day Tuesday, May 17 at the Southeast Research and Extension Center, 25092 Ness Road in Parsons.