Wichita Frigid air that displaced near-record high temperatures in recent days has spurred yet more worry about the state's drought-stressed 2007 winter wheat crop, experts said Friday.
Jim Shroyer, an Extension wheat specialist at Kansas State University, said the sudden chill wasn't particularly alarming in parts of Kansas where the wheat was insulated by a blanket of snow or ice.
But he said that in central Kansas - particularly around Salina and Hillsboro - the wheat crop already was so stressed from drought that leaves were turning yellow. Some of those fields were showing signs of drought-induced nitrogen deficiencies even before the storm hit.
The loose, dry soils in those fields also would be more vulnerable to penetration from the sudden drop in temperature, Shroyer said.
"I'm not going to say damage, but my level of concern has gone up a little bit," Shroyer said. "The other reason, besides drought, is we had near-record-highs days earlier and we are concerned about wheat hardening and taking a rapid drop in temperature."