Areas of the Midwest recently experienced hail and severe winds from storms, which resulted in damaged crops. As we’re officially in the summer growing season, growers are likely on high alert for what a severe thunderstorm could mean for their emerged fields. Here are a few recommendations from our agronomy team on how to assess and protect your crops after a storm:
Step 1: First things first — scout. Get out in the fields, look at different sections and determine the extent of the damage. Also, note the growth stage of the plants in the field, as that may impact the next steps.
Step 2: If it’s early enough — wait it out. Experts from the Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources said, “With any early-season hail damage, the most important first step is to give the crop time to regrow before addressing damage and making major decisions.” For corn, it’s important to know where the growing point is. For anything under V6, the growing point is still underground so you are likely safe from any long-term damage. For soybeans, it’s a bit trickier as the growing points are above ground immediately after emergence. Experts say to look for broken nodes and damage to stems below the growing point. Even if damage is detected on soybeans, our agronomists recommend waiting up to five to seven days before considering additional steps such as replant.
“Unless the hail or wind has knocked everything over, growers should wait it out,” says Tom Larson, corn technical agronomist for Stine. “There’s no reason to jump the gun right after a storm.”
Step 3: If after five to seven days you see additional damage to crops resulting from the initial damage (e.g., lodging or plant discoloration across fields, any indication that the crop isn’t properly taking up nutrients, or an increase in bacterial disease), it may be time to consider secondary options.
Step 4: Consider fungicides only in severe fungal infestations. According to a recent article by Connie Strunk, South Dakota State University Extension Plant Pathology Field Specialist, “Applying fungicides on hail-damaged plants should only be warranted if there are significant fungal diseases developing on these plants.” If you have heavy fungal pressure, applying a fungicide may be a consideration to help protect the yield potential of the plant. Connie notes fungicide applications for soybeans are best between R1 and R3 — and for corn, VT and R1 when warranted. On the other hand, if fungal pressure is mild to moderate, it may be best to consult your local agronomist before spending money on additional inputs.
“When a plant is under stress, it’s going to be vulnerable to diseases,” says Larson. ”Growers really need to do their due diligence and scout frequently to see if a post-storm fungicide application is warranted. Stine agronomists can help growers determine if a fungicide might make sense.”
Step 5: Replant only in severe cases. In most cases, your corn should be fine unless heavy disease pressure persists after fungicide passes or in severe wind events where lodging or greensnap occur across fields. But, for soybeans, if severe damage is noticed in several of the nodes, replant may be a consideration. Before doing so, we highly recommend consulting with your local sales rep or agronomist to determine the best path forward.
“If you have a total loss, there are charts out there that can help you determine the percentage basis for replant,” says Larson. “But growers also need to look at it from an insurance standpoint. They need to ensure they’re covered in this regard.”
For more tips on managing your crops following a storm, reach out to your local Stine representative.