Frost Injury on Small Grains

Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomist; rtaylor@udel.edu

Several weeks ago frost damage was identified on several barley fields, although it appeared to be limited to leaf tip burn (see Photo 1). Since that time, a number of other fields of both wheat and barley have shown similar symptoms and at least at this time the long-range weather forecast indicates a continuing risk for frost in the state and region. Barley fields have begun to head out and are quite susceptible to frost which can kill the pollen in the anthers preventing successful pollination and subsequent grain fill. Many times the only way we can determine if this has happened is to wait and see if the crop develops blank heads as maturity approaches. In the most recent issue of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Agronomist Quarterly Newsletter (March 2012), Dr. Wade Thomason from Va Tech wrote a review article entitled ‘What’s The Risk? Development of the 2012 Small Grain Crop and Potential for Spring Freeze Injury’. The article, as well as one I wrote for Weekly Crop Update April 13, 2007, gives the risk of injury from frost and the expected impact on wheat yield potential.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Agronomist Quarterly Newsletter is posted on several web sites. Among these are the following locations: http://sites.udel.edu/equine/fact-sheets/forages-hay-and-pastures/ (look for the March 2012 issue) or http://www.grains.cses.vt.edu/ (look for Mid-Atlantic Regional Agronomy Newsletter) or www.mdcrops.umd.edu (click on Newsletter).

Photo 1. Leaf tip burn on barley from freezing temperatures (Kent County Delaware)

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