Frost Damage?

Frost Damage?

How to determine the crop's life stage and dissect the plant to evaluate frost damage.


As the crop gets older it becomes more sensitive to cold temperatures. At tillering the crop can sustain temperatures as low as 12 °F, however, once the crop reaches stem elongation it can only sustain temperatures below 24 °F for a max length of 2 hours.

The below steps and videos will guide you through staging and dissecting wheat to evaluate frost damage in your crop.  Hint: Visual leaf damage is not as correlated to the viability of the plant as you might think.

*Watch to the end to see how The McGregor Company's new Soft White Winter Wheat variety, Midas, is looking.  This is one to watch!

Assessing frost damage in jointed wheat from The McGregor Company on Vimeo.


Dissecting and Evaluating Frost Damage in Wheat

-Start by separating the plants

It is important to have bucket of water to dunk the roots and wash them off

-Check for root regrowth

This is a sign that the plant is still growing.

Tip: Root hairs live for only about 48 hours before sloughing off. If you have new root hairs, you know you have root growth in the last 48 hours.

-Identify the main stem

Look for the tallest leaf and peal back the remaining leaves in order to visualize node separation. If you can pinch and crush right above the node, you know there is another node above it

-Cut the leaf

About ½”-1” above the last node

-Vertically slice the stem

Very carefully use a razor to vertically slice the stem and begin peeling back the layers until you can visualize the head

-Evaluate the head appearance

Look for bright white, clear head definition

Head Comparison2

Left: frost damaged head. Right: healthy head.


Video: Staging wheat to get it right