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Colour Banding in Cereals

Colour banding in cereals can occur on emerging tissue near the soil surface. This phenomenon is caused by cold nighttime temperatures followed by warm sunny mornings and is more commonly observed when cereal crops are: 1. Seeded relatively deep, 2. Soils are water-logged or 3. After a frost event. While the symptoms can appear very dramatic, as young seedlings become increasingly cold tolerant, symptoms will fade.


  • Pale bands, usually on first and second leaves.
  • Bands extend the entire width of the leaf.
  • Appear in a similar position on each seedling.
  • The bands can result in necrotic tissue.
  • Typically does not affect plant productivity.

Color banding

Figure 1. Colour banding in wheat. Photos courtesy of Dr. Gordan Murray - NSW Agriculture (left) and Dr. Andrew Friskop – NDSU (centre, right).

For more information on spring frost risks in cereals, click here.