Four Ways to Manage Hail Damaged Crops
Much of the High Plains is prone to crop damage from hail storms. Often a part of the hail storm is high winds. Predicting yield loss from hail to crops on the High Plains is always difficult. Weather and growing conditions immediately following the storm are large variables that impact whether the crop recovers favorably. Any damage assessment is best done 3-10 days after the storm occurred. Especially when it comes to plant health. It takes time for the damage to stabilize.
One of the biggest challenges following a hailstorm is to decide what further management is appropriate given the remaining potential yield. If anything, management now becomes even more critical.
Additional weed control measures may be needed to keep late-emerging weeds from competing with the hailed crop. Weeds that were being suppressed by the canopy of the healthy crop may now need to be chemically controlled since they will grow and compete more with the crop that has suffered leaf loss. Some herbicide labels allow application later in the year, but it is critical to follow the labels. Pre-harvest applications can also help reduce seed production for the coming years
The advent of above ground Bt corn has minimized the chance for corn borer damage. The hailed fields always seem to attract any moths in the area. If growing conventional corn, sweet corn, organic corn or popcorn, then the fields should be monitored closely for insect activity. Keeping these pests under control will allow the crop to remain healthy as long as possible for maximum grain fill.
Hailed crops can make it more difficult to detect economic levels of insect pressure. Extra time and care in scouting can be required for timely detection and applications of any insecticide treatment that may be required.
Canopy loss can affect crop water use. The loss of leaf area cuts down on the plant water usage, but the addition of more soil evaporation and a change in the in-field micro climate due to the open canopy may cause total water use to be similar to a normal crop.
Late applications of nitrogen or sulfur have not usually resulted in yield increases on damaged crops, and this is borne out by several university studies. Fungicide treatments a couple days after the hail may help to stabilize crop health and can be considered when the crop potential warrants.
Managing hailed crops can be a challenge, but proper management can add dollars to the bottom line.
For more information about how Servi-Tech can help you make your fields more productive, call us at 1-800-557-7509.