Freeze Warning in NC: Are Your Varieties at Risk?

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
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The state will be experiencing temperatures below freezing over the weekend and into next week. In North Carolina, temperatures below 32°F are predicted to occur between March 10th and March 16th, with temperatures dropping as low as 22°F in some parts of the state. Exposure to temperatures at or below 28°F for more than three hours will cause freeze injury to early heading wheat varieties, and potentially to medium heading varieties in the southern parts of the state. Examples of early heading varieties at risk include AGS 2024, AGS 2038, GA 05364-12E6, GA 04434-12LE28, SH 555, and SS 8513. Medium heading varieties at risk in the southern parts of the state include, AgriMAXX 462, DG 9600, Featherstone 73, Limagrain L11425, NC09-20986, P26R41, P26R53, P26R59, Progeny 870, Progeny 243, SS  8340, SS 8415, Syngenta Oakes, USG 3197, USG 3612, USG 3765, and USG 3895.

Wheat in NC is maturing much faster than typical. Freeze injury can be very site specific depending on localized conditions; however, if forecasted temperatures are accurate, freeze injury to wheat and other small grains will be widespread in the state. Check your local forecasts to determine which nights your fields will be most at risk and focus scouting efforts on early and medium maturing varieties approximately 7 days following the freeze. When scouting for freeze injury cut tillers at ground level, split tillers down the middle to make a lateral cross section, and examine the developing wheat head inside. Healthy heads will appear white to green, while freeze damaged heads will appear water-soaked, brown, and may be mushy. Tip burning and off-color leaves following a freeze is normal and generally not as concerning as damaged heads in the developing tiller.