KANSAS CITY — Damage to winter wheat in Oklahoma may be worse than initially expected, according to an Oklahoma State University extension specialist who toured the southwestern part of the state.

“I surveyed freeze injury in southwest Oklahoma and the damage is extensive,” Jeff Edwards, small grains extension specialist at Oklahoma State University said in an email and on his blog.

“On April 4th I toured southwest Oklahoma and surveyed freeze injury to wheat,” Mr. Edwards said. “In my experience, most freeze events are overhyped; however, this one was the real deal. I traveled a route from Faxon to Chattanooga to Altus to Blair and ended up at Apache. Damage was similar at all sites, with injury ranging from 50% to 80%. The best looking wheat was the hardest hit.”

“Particularly troubling are some fields in the Altus area that easily had 80 bus (per acre) potential prior to the freeze,” Mr. Edwards said. “In most of these fields we are too far past the tillering stage to have yield compensation from secondary tillers. Late-emerging fields that were jointing or smaller escaped the freeze with little injury. Fields that had been heavily grazed and/or under-fertilized also escaped with relatively minor injury. Conditions improved slightly when I checked wheat in the Chickasha area and injury was more in the 10% to 30% range.”

The damage occurred when temperatures across Oklahoma fell into the teens and 20’s March 25-26.

There may be additional insight into the damage when the Oklahoma field office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its weekly crop update at 3:00 p.m. Central Time today (April 8).