• Sep 01, 2016

Steps to Take After Late-Season Hail

Any time hail strikes corn or soybeans, the amount of crop damage and yield loss depends on the growth stage of the plants and the severity of the storm. As crops approach maturity, the level of damage often hinges on the amount of leaf tissue that’s been removed from the plants. While leaf damage may look severe, if green tissue is still attached to the plant, it continues to provide photosynthetic benefits.
Farmers with hail insurance need to work with adjusters to assess losses; however, everyone affected by hail needs to get out into their fields and examine the extent of the damage.
Assessing hail damage in corn
Along with assessing leaf tissue loss, stalk bruising may have occurred which limits the translocation of water and nutrients throughout the plant and reduces standability. After hail damage, in late August to early September the pinch test can be used on the lower portion of the stalk to assess stalk rot. If the stalk collapses in your hand, cut the stalk open and check for stalk rot. If stalk rots are identified in a significant portion of the corn plants, you should consider harvesting these fields early, while the corn is still standing.  Universities report that hail-damaged corn will usually achieve physiological maturity earlier, but will take longer to dry down than non-hailed corn. Corn yield and test weight will likely decrease after hail.
Other damage to assess includes husk bruising that extends directly to corn ears. Damaged ears can attract insects like picnic beetles, which may also attract bird feeding, increasing ear damage. Also watch for signs of disease development, such as Goss’s wilt. While there are no immediate treatment recommendations for Goss’s wilt, a bacterial disease, this information will help with cropping decisions for next season, such as rotating away from corn in fields with known Goss’s wilt infections or planting hybrids with a high level of tolerance to the disease.
Assessing hail damage in soybeans
In soybeans, the amount of hail damage will depend on the timing of the hail; the amount of leaf, stem and pod damage; and whether you have indeterminate or determinate soybeans, which differ in their ability to recover.  Weed growth should be assessed after a hail event to determine if a herbicide treatment is needed, since soybean leaf loss from hail will open up the crop canopy, stimulating weed growth.
For more information about hail damage management, contact your local agronomist or WinField representative.