Central Texas wheat suffered considerable damage from the late-March freeze, but it could have been a lot worse, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service crops expert.

“We still don’t know the full extent of the damage,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head. “Some areas were pretty severely hit and some less so.”

During early April, Miller, Dr. Gaylon Morgan and Dr. Clark Neely, also AgriLife Extension agronomists, along with county agents, toured various sites and conducted wheat-freeze clinics in the Blacklands, where wheat was more mature and more likely to suffer damage from temperatures that in some cases dropped into the mid-20s.

“The good news appears to come from the High Plains. Although there were some reports of injury, it was not extensive – just a little here and there,” Miller said.

In Central Texas, where there was more damage from the March freeze, it’s still hard to estimate how many acres of wheat were damaged.

“It’s a situation where the upper part of your field may be okay, and the lower third of it may have 20 percent or 25 percent damage. You just struggle to get a number on something like that.”

Miller and his colleagues saw two types of injury during their wheat-freeze clinics.

“We saw lot of sterilization of heads,” he said. “And we had stem injury where it ruptured the water- and nutrient-carrying vessels in the stem, and the plant just quit carrying water and the leaves were drying up. (We saw) some of both kinds of damage, but obviously the plant can’t recover if the growing point or the head freezes. It just dies.”

Miller and his colleagues reported quite a bit of freeze injury to corn, but say the crop will generally recover.

“Overall, the damage was not nearly as extensive as I’ve seen from some freezes in the past,” Miller said. “Certainly, if you’re one of those farmers who had more advanced wheat, it looks pretty severe to you.”