Oklahoma Winter Wheat and Spring Freeze

April 14, 2009


Submitter:Gary McManus
Summary Author:Gary McManus

Like a lot of people, after a moderate February and March the last thing I want is any more cold weather. I think it's spring! Well, wheat is the same way. Give it warm weather in late-winter (see chart below) and the last thing the plants need is a dose of really cold weather. When it is abnormally warm, the plants rev up their maturation schedule and become more vulnerable to freeze events. Unfortunately, that scenario played out in Oklahoma earlier this month during a spell of unusually cold weather. The moisture was much needed, but the cold was not. Wheat damage from the frigid weather following the storm resulted in various levels of injury from cosmetic damage to total sterility.

As shown above on the above freeze duration map from the Oklahoma Mesonet, temperatures dipped below freezing across the entire state the nights of April 5-7, in some places for 20 hours or more. Obviously, the colder and longer the freezing temps occur the worse the damage will be. It's not just wheat that can be damaged; any vulnerable crops, including those of an ornamental variety in urban settings, are at risk during these types of cold snaps.

Oklahoma Mesonet Feb.-March Temperatures
Climate Division Rank since 1895
Panhandle 24th Warmest
North Central 17th Warmest
Northeast 17th Warmest
West Central 10th Warmest
Central 11th Warmest
East Central 17th Warmest
Southwest 6th Warmest
South Central 9th Warmest
Southeast 21st Warmest
Statewide 13th Warmest

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