Options for crops damaged by hail
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 08/02/2012 2:03 PM
The growing season in Nicollet County started dry, but downpours soon caused problems.
Some acres have been planted three times already this year, said Christian Lilienthal, Nicollet County Extension educator.
Nitrogen issues have cropped up as sealing issues occurred last fall and nitrogen may have volatized over the warm winter. High winds have caused dust storms, giving corn welts from flying debris, Lilienthal said.
An early morning storm on June 19 brought more woes to the county. High winds and hail were reported with some of the worst damage near Lafayette.
Corn that was wounded by the hail and wind may be more vulnerable to pathogens, said Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota Extension corn agronomist. Common smut and Goss's Wilt may appear.
Neither common smut nor Goss's Wilt are controlled by fungicide, Coulter said, and there is no point in spraying fungicide on hail-damaged corn. It won't help the corn recover. Wounding doesn't impact the leaf diseases that farmers typically apply fungicide to prevent.
Farmers need to be realistic about potential corn yield reductions, he said. It varies a lot from field to field. If the whorl is severely damaged it can cause plants to tie up and become twisted. New leaves have difficulty growing from that whorl.
He saw other plants with shredded leaves that were already putting forth new leaves.
Some of the severely damaged fields smelled like they were rotting.
So what's a farmer to do? Answering that question was the reason behind a meeting held June 21 in Lafayette. The meeting began at the community center and moved to a nearby UFC plot that was severely damaged, said Julie Sievert, Sibley County Extension educator. She and Lilienthal
organized the meeting.
Farmers attending the meeting were thankful for the trip out to the field where U of M experts showed them what to look for in their fields. They sliced open stalk to see if the growing point was intact and white or if it was brown or destroyed.
Farmers were told to give soybean fields a little time. If the plants start putting out a trifoliate leaf, it will survive. There will likely be a yield loss, but if soybeans are replanted there were also likely be a yield loss, Sievert said.
Farmers should plant an early bean, a group zero up to a 1.0 bean, much like what's planted after peas, said Extension educator Dave Nicolai.
Farmers who need corn silage could plant an 80-day hybrid for silage, though it would likely freeze before it made a lot of grain.
"You can't really replant corn for grain, it's too late," Coulter said.
Corn damaged in the storm may have standability issues; it may also have higher moisture and lower test weight, Nicolai said.
Another option, if the crop is totally destroyed, is to plant some kind of cover crop to block out the weeds and hold the soil. It will also keep the beneficial soil organisms going. Millet may be another option.
If alfalfa was damaged, farmers may want to harvest it ahead of schedule, Nicolai said. If it's turning brown, harvest it ASAP and let it regrow, he said.
One of the most important things at this point is for farmers to talk with their insurance agent. They need to know if they hail or multi-peril insurance coverage or both.
The agent will notify the adjuster who will get in contact with farmers to arrange a time to meet at the field.
Sievert said several people thanked her for organizing the meeting. It was educational and helped provide them with information as they wait for the insurance adjustor.