Farmers should examine winter wheat and forages as the crops emerge from dormancy to determine if they have been damaged from the recent sleet and ice storms, two Purdue Extension specialists say.
“The snow that fell was not the normal, powdery snow but a combination of ice and rain acting as a natural concrete,” he said.
Ice can surround the crown of alfalfa plants and allow toxic metabolites to build up, preventing the natural exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen during respiration – essentially smothering the plant.
Wheat specialist Shaun Casteel said ice in wheat can permanently damage the crown or kill the plant.
Farmers won’t know whether ice caused winter damage to their crops until they go out and check their fields, Johnson said.
“As a good management practice, producers should always check plants when crops break winter dormancy,” he said. “Farmers who delay a field check until mid-April because they assume everything is okay can go into panic mode when they discover a winter-damaged crop.